Sesa Goa hopeful of getting green nod to K'taka mine soon
New Delhi: Vedanta group firm Sesa Goa is hopeful of securing forest clearances in a "matter of days" to resume operations in Karnataka, a top company official said.
The company's mine in Chitradurga district is among the mines in the state on which the Supreme Court last week had lifted the ban.
"We are not looking at long time line to secure forest clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The judgement will help the mining people and economic activity will restart in the region. We are hopeful of securing the (forest) clearance in matter of days considering the iron ore crunch," Sesa Goa's Managing Director P K Mukherjee said.
Sesa Goa's lease for the mine had expired in October last year and with that the forest clearance had also ended. While the company can begin mining on deemed basis till the renewal of the lease, it requires forest clearance to do the same.
On Thursday last week, the Supreme Court lifted mining ban in Karnataka with conditions. While it ordered to cancel all 49 mining leases in Category-C, Category-A and -B mines got the permission to reopen after meeting conditions related to reclamation and rehabilitation (R&R) programme.
The A, B and C categories were made by an apex court appointed panel, Central Empowered Committee (CEC), to demarcate the illegalities in the mines of Karnataka. While mines with least or no irregularities were categorised as 'A', those with maximum illegalities were placed in category 'C'.
Sesa Goa's mine was in Category-B. Before the imposition of ban by the Supreme Court in July-August 2011, the mine could produce 6 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of ore. Now its capacity has been curtailed to 2.29 MTPA as the apex court has fixed an upper ceiling of 30 MTPA for iron ore production in Karnataka.
Mukherjee said that he is hopeful of securing new leases as and when the state government begins the process, while noting that the judgement has also paved the way for issuing new mining leases.
"We are hopeful to get more access to additional mines. As and when this process begins, it will help in increasing mining capacity and not only us, but other companies will also get benefited. This (allocation of new leases) will also help in putting our growth projections on track."
The company will also look to revive plans to set up a steel mill in Bellary, he said. Sesa Goa had acquired an under-construction steel project Bellary Steel and Alloys Ltd (BSAL) for Rs 220 crore in March, 2011.
The acquisition was strategic fit for Sesa Goa as BASL has 700 acres of freehold land and is located near its iron ore mine.
Mukherjee also expressed the hope that the issue of mining ban in Goa will also be fast-tracked by the Supreme Court.