However, Chairman of SAIL, NMDC positive about development

Differences on shareholding issue continue to come in the way of formation of two steel-making joint ventures--SAIL-Posco and NMDC-Severstal--involving over Rs 35,000 crore investment, as both the overseas firms are insisting on owning majority stakes in them. Though differences between the two domestic firms and the overseas entities over the issue has been on for quite some time now without signs of an early settlement, C S Verma, Chairman of both SAIL and NMDC, sees light at the end of the tunnel.

Iron ore miner NMDC may announce a revision in the July-August contract price for the key input for steel-making at its board meeting scheduled on August 21.

“The NMDC board at its meeting on August 13 did not take a call on iron ore price. It is meeting on August 21 again to consider the matter. It may revise the price,” a source close to the development said. On increased demand and lower availability, NMDC had raised the price of the raw material by eight-10 per cent for the April-June contract price.

The recent decision of the Supreme Court capping iron ore production at 30 million tonnes per annum in Karnataka has not deterred iron and steel companies from expanding their capacities. Both the existing and new steel companies have lined up expansion plans as well as set up greenfield plants in the ore-starved Karnataka state.

While newcomers like Arcelor Mittal and Posco are still awaiting allotment of captive mining leases before commencing work on their respective six million tonne per annum greenfield steel plants in the state, existing manufacturers like JSW Steel Ltd, BMM Ispat Ltd and Kalyani Steel have planned expansion.

The Supreme Court on Friday took a tough stand over the resumption of mining in Karnataka and asserted that unless it was sure that the reclamation and rehabilitation (R & R) steps are “hundred per cent” complied with, operations cannot be allowed.

“There is an assumption that operations can start and R& R will follow,” the Bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam observed. But it is a wrong assumption, the three-judge Bench clarified.

Forest Bench says statutory clearance is a must

The Forest Bench of the Supreme Court on Friday made it clear that no iron ore mining operations in Karnataka shall be permitted to resume unless there was statutory clearance for mining and till reclamation and rehabilitation was implemented in full. The Bench, comprising Justice Aftab Alam, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar, took the decision after the Central Empowered Committee in its August 16 report said “no further direction is required regarding sale of iron ore and/or resumption of mining operations by Category A mining leases.”

The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) is planning to make public hearings mandatory for all mining licences coming up for renewal or where the mine is going in for expansion. The move is expected to add another layer of control over mining activities at a time when the Prime Minister’s Office is keen to ease regulations and speed up projects.

Public hearing is a mandatory step in the process of environmental clearance for addressing concerns of affected persons which is conducted by the state pollution control board (SPCB). It is supposed to be completed within 45 days from the date of receipt of the request letter from the applicant, but often, the time taken is much more. Normally, the process is adopted while giving a fresh mining lease.

Bangalore After a three-year gap, the Karnataka government has initiated the process to recommend new iron ore mining leases, a move that could speed up the launch of large steel projects by ArcelorMittal and Tata Metaliks in the state.

“We have started the process by surveying land in Bellary and studying availability of iron ore deposits,” MN Vidyashankar, principal secretary, department of industries & commerce, Karnataka, told FE. The state government will have to forward lease recommendations for various parties to the Centre, which is the final ratifying authority.

The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to consider the plea for re-opening of 16 iron ore mines in Karnataka, acknowledging the adverse impact on the steel industry due to ban on mining operations.

A three-judge forest bench led by Justice Aftab Alam fixed as August 17 the date for considering the application filed by Karnataka Iron and Steel Manufacturing Association seeking direction to allow opening of 16 mines listed as ‘A’ category of mines having least irregularities by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC).

The Supreme Court today asked the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), the associations representing various private industries related to mining and iron ore and the Karnataka government to draft a scheme for the e-auction of iron ore. They will also evolve a pricing mechanism.

The court did not pass any order granting relief to the mining firms but promised to do so on August 17, after examining the report of the Central Empowered Committee. The committee submitted its report to the bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam. Since the three judges on the bench wanted to read the report, they adjourned the hearing till next Friday.

The recent decision of the Supreme Court capping iron ore production at 30 million tonnes per annum in Karnataka has not deterred iron and steel companies from expanding their capacities.