Bhubaneswar: Orissa has held up permission to operate 23 iron ore mines in its mineral rich Keonjhar district as the operators are yet to submit documents to show that their mining activities were legal, an official said on Saturday.
"We have held up permissions and asked the operators to supply documents like forest clearance, mining lease, and surface rights etc," deputy director (mines) Umesh Chandra Jena told a news agency.
"If they don`t submit the papers within seven days, we will initiate further action against them," he said.
Orissa is one of the largest mineral-bearing states in India having an estimated 16.92 percent of the country`s mineral reserves. The state government started an investigation in July 2009 following allegations that some mines were operating without licence.
The state government earlier this month had said it is likely to seek a ban on the export of iron ore and chrome ore from the state to meet domestic demand and prevent illegal mining.
The steel and mines department has already drafted a proposal and placed it before state Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadai and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for approval.
Once it is approved, the government will send a formal proposal to the central government, a senior official of the state steel and mines department said.
Orissa has approximately 600 mines and more than half of them have been closed since over an year after the government tightened rules to prevent illegal mining.