Iron ore mining is set to resume on a full scale in Karnataka with the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) recommending that all lessees under A and B categories be permitted to restart mining operations.

The panel, in its recommendations to the apex court, has said that all the leases under category A can be permitted to excavate ore. The apex court, on September 3, 2012, had permitted resumption of mining for 18 of the 45 leases in category A. With CEC’s latest recommendations, the remaining 27 will resume operations.

The 1,000-km pipeline will feed industries at Belgaum, Dharwad, Gadag, Bellary, Davanagere, Chitradurga, Tumkuyr, Ramanagaram & Bengaluru

State-owned gas utility GAIL India Ltd today commissioned a Rs 4,500 crore pipeline carrying gas from the just operationalised Dabhol LNG terminal into Bengaluru that promises to change the energy landscape of the region. The 1,000-km pipeline will feed industries at Belgaum, Dharwad, Gadag, Bellary, Davanagere, Chitradurga, Tumkuyr, Ramanagaram and Bengaluru which have till now been using costlier and polluting liquid fuels like naphtha and diesel as feedstock.

Based on GIS application system, the department of mines and geology has so far digitized 4,500 mining leases in the state

The Karnataka government has embarked on a project to build a geo database on GIS application system for mapping mineralized zones, developing mineral atlas, data on existing leases, which will be helpful to process the mining applications online. The department of mines and geology (DMG) has undertaken this project. Under this project, up to the end of October 2012, the department has completed digitization of 4,500 leases for various minerals in the state, the government said in the Economic Survey of Karnataka for 2012-13.

Jailed mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy and his associates virtually ruled the roost in Bellary district in 2008 and 2009 when iron ore mining was at its peak.

The CBI, which is probing the illegal iron ore mining activities in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, has said that “Reddy, who was then Tourism minister and also minister in charge of Bellary district, wielded considerable political and muscle power and thereby made forceful entry into the mining leases owned by somebody else and indulged in extracting iron ore and transporting it.”

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to look into an NGO’s plea seeking CBI probe against former Karnataka Minister D K Shivakumar, his brother D K Suresh and nine other mining companies in connection with illegal iron ore mining.

A three-judge bench presided over by Justice Aftab Alam told the CEC to submit a report after examining the application filed by Dharwad based-NGO Samaj Parivartana Samudaya (SPS).

After reducing the prices of iron ore for domestic steel mills in the October-January period, state-owned miner NMDC is considering a price rise in February.

The company’s board is likely to meet next week to decide on the issue. “The company has taken a policy decision to revise iron ore prices every month. In line with the policy, the board would meet early next week,” sources said. They added the rise could be between Rs 200 and Rs 400 a tonne and. It would be based on factors such as demand and supply, prices elsewhere and the recent rise in international prices, they said. In the past two months, prices of iron ore in the international markets have risen significantly. Currently, it is traded at $140-145 a tonne, about 61 per cent higher than in September.

According to a top company official, JSW Steel is trying to feed its blast furnaces with the most inferior raw material for the first time

JSW Steel, which is facing severe shortage of iron ore for its 11-million tonne Vijaynagar steel plant in Bellary district, is planning to experiment with very low-grade and inferior quality ore having iron (Fe) content between 40 and 50 per cent. The company has so far used ore with Fe content up to 52 per cent. Now, for the first time it is trying to feed its blast furnaces with the most inferior raw material, a top company official said. The company is currently operating its Bellary plant at 68 per cent capacity due to poor supply of iron ore.

Steel industry expects availability to fall further in 2013-14, no exports recorded since November

The severe shortage in iron ore supplies from Karnataka and Goa, where mining was stopped following a Supreme Court directive, and the cap on production in Odisha have led to India becoming a net importer of iron ore this financial year. Till 2011, India was the third-largest exporter of iron ore.

SC stipulated that a max of 25 mn tn of iron ore can be extracted annually from Bellary district, 5 mn tn from Chitradurga, Tumkur district

Faced with the constraints on granting new mining leases in view of the cap on extraction of iron ore at 30 million tonne per annum, the Karnataka government has appealed to the Supreme Court to withdraw its order on limiting iron ore production. The state government, in a fresh appeal before the Apex Court recently, stated that the cap of 30 million tonnes per annum from the three mining districts of Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur would jeopardize setting up of new steel mills in the state.

The SC appointed Monitoring Committee is currently assessing the quantity of iron ore available at these dumps in the three mining districts

The Supreme Court appointed Monitoring Committee, which is supervising the e-auction of iron ore, has planned to put on auction iron ore dumps containing mostly low-grade iron ore. The committee has started assessing the approximate quantity of iron ore available in the dumps at several places in the three mineral rich districts of Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur. The process would be completed in a month’s time and go to Central Empowered Committee (CEC) for an approval to put on e-auction, the sources close to the development said.