Iron ore mining operations have been restarted in Karnataka's Bellary and Chitradurga districts, a year after these were suspended, following a Supreme Court directive. After securing all statutory approvals, two Category A mines have resumed mining, offering hope of regular iron ore supply to the ore-starved steel industry.

According to officials from the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (Fimi), two mining lessees, R Praveen Chandra in Chitradurga and B Kumar Gowda in Bellary, have commenced mining. Nadeem Minerals, which has a mine in Bellary, is likely to restart mining next week. Together, these mines would bring about 1.5 million tonnes (mt) of iron ore to the auction platform in about two weeks.

Central Empowered Committee recommends setting up SPV to implement environment conservation plan in mining districts of Bellary, Chitradurga & Tumkur

The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court has recommended a Rs 30,000 crore project to undertake environment conservation and socio-economic development in the three districts of Karnataka, where rampant illegal mining has devastated the environment. It has finalised a plan for setting up of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to implement the plan.

Five mining leases with a combined capacity of 2.56 mt are waiting for final approval to restart mining in Bellary & Chitradurga districts

The resumption of iron ore mining in Karnataka is likely to be delayed as none of the Category A mines is able to secure all statutory approvals stipulated by the Supreme Court. The apex court had lifted ban on 18 Category A mines to resume mining subject to fulfilment of stringent conditions in its order passed on September 3. The order followed the acceptance of a report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which had recommended relaxation of the prohibition as they had done the least harm to the environment.

At the e-auctions held on October 5 for 1.14 mn tonnes of iron ore, buyers showed interest to buy barely 160,000 tonnes

Even though steel mills are facing acute shortage of raw materials for their blast furnaces, they showed no urgency to buy iron ore at the recent electronic auctions (e-auctions) held exclusively for the ore by state-owned NMDC Ltd. At the e-auctions held on October 5 for about 1.14 million tonnes (mt) of iron ore, buyers showed interest to buy barely 160,000 tonnes, about 14 per cent of the stock.

Mineral Enterprises, the only company to secure all clearances, suspends ops

Bangalore-based Mineral Enterprises Limited (MEL) has suspended mining operations at its iron ore mine in Chitradurga district after its lease period expired on October 6. The company has managed to produce 35,000 tonnes in one month. MEL was the first company to get all the statutory clearances to restart mining in Karnataka. With the suspension of mining by MEL, the mining has once again come to a standstill in Karnataka as 11 other mines in the Category A are yet to secure all statutory approvals.

Category B leases were found to have done illegal mining outside the sanctioned areas up to 10% of the lease areas

The Supreme Court of India has directed 63 Category B mining leases in Karnataka to pay compensation for illegal mining outside the sanctioned area before allowing them to restart operations. In its latest order issued on October 1, the apex court has accepted the recommendations of amicus curiae Shyam Divan. The three-member forest bench headed by judge Aftab Alam passed directions as an absolute first step before considering resumption of operations by Category B mines.

The Union commerce ministry has set up a directorate exclusively to look after the welfare of small tea growers. The directorate, approved by the Planning Commission, will soon start functioning under the aegis of the Tea Board.

“This is a very important imperative for the welfare of small tea growers. It is important to look after the interests of small growers, in our approach to inclusive growth,” said Jyotiraditya Scindia, minister of state for commerce, here on Friday. The Planning Commission has sanctioned 50 posts for the directorate. It will have a central office and many regional offices in states, he told reporters on the sidelines of the 119th annual conference of the United Planters’ Association of South India (Upasi).

Union minister of state for commerce Jyotiraditya Scindia on Friday allayed fears on any adverse effect of plantation crops on the rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats.

“Cultivation of plantation crops in the Western Ghats will not affect its rich bio-diversity or disturb the ecological balance between flora and fauna in the region as feared,” Scindia said at a planters’ conference here. The rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats is safe and free from adverse effect from plantation crops grown on slopes, he told the 119th annual conference of United Planters’ Association of South India (Upasi), here.

15 teams search homes and offices of several exporters, no arrests made so far

A week after the Supreme Court ordered for an inquiry by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged illegal export of 5 million metric tonnes of iron ore from Belekeri port in Karnataka, the CBI officials began search operations on several iron ore exporters and mining firms at various places in Bangalore, Karwar, Hospet and Goa, early this morning.

Plans to launch Reva NXR with lithium ion battery by Diwali

Two months ahead of the launch of a much-awaited next-gen electric car, Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles Pvt Ltd is finalising an aggressive product road map to expand its business in India and foreign markets. The Mahindra Group company, which is likely to launch its new electric car, the four-seater Reva NXR, during Diwali, has lined up five new models, including three from Mahindra platforms and two from Reva, for launch till 2016. The new car is packed with a host of world-first technology features.