After a 12 month ban on mining in the Indian state of Karnataka, Mineral Enterprises Limited (MEL) has become the first mining company to restart operations at its Chitradurga mine.
The mining ban was enforced by the country’s Supreme Court in August 2011 after a committee revealed illegal operations were causing environmental damage. This meant only one state-owned miner NMDC was allowed to produce and sell ore through the government’s own trader MSTC.
After a series of hearings in the matter, the Court accepted recommendations that some mines deemed legal be allowed to restart mining once rehabilitation works had been undertaken. An annual cap on the state’s total output was also announced.
Among the few mines given a ‘Category A’ classification and approved for restarting is MEL’s Chitradurga mine. The ore produced will only be allowed to be sold via electronic auctions to domestic customers.
MEL director Cyriac Joseph says the company’s approval is for annual production of up to 380,000 million tonnes of iron ore, or about half its annual production capacity.
“We are back in business. We are the first to restart iron ore mining operations in the state. This is a significant development in the sense that mining has commenced again in Karnataka.” He says it will take about a month for MEL to put up its first ore consignment for sale via electronic auction.
MEL has leases for iron ore, manganese and limestone at various locations in Karnataka with significant quality reserves in the Chitadurga and Tumkur districts.