The ministry of mines has allowed state-owned steelmaker Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) to offload up to 25 per cent of its previous year’s total iron ore production in a year, in a move to ensure iron ore availability for the steel industry as a whole.
It will, however, be subject to clearance from the respective state governments, where the mines are located, and after following due procedure. It will be valid for a period of 2 years.
This implies that SAIL can now offload around 7 million tonnes of iron ore produced at its different mines in the states of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chattisgarh in the domestic market, after getting necessary clearance from the respective state governments.
This will enable SAIL to not only meet its own requirement, but also to partially cater to shortfall in domestic iron ore requirement. The order of ministry of mines follows efforts buy the minister of petroleum and natural gas and steel, Dharmendra Pradhan, in this regard.
In a separate order issued by the ministry of mines, SAIL has also been allowed to dispose of the old stock of 70 million tonnes of low grade iron fines and ores (including slime), lying dumped across different captive mines of SAIL. Necessary permission will have to be taken from the states, where the mines are located (ie, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chattisgarh).
The mine ministry’s decision is a definitive step towards environment protection as well as release of value from hitherto dumped material.
It is pertinent to note that as per provision of Section 8A (6) of Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act, 1957), the lease of 31 working mines of iron ore is expiring on 31 March 2020. The expiry of the lease deads is expected to lead to a shortfall of 60 million tonnes of iron ore in the market.
“Ensuring raw material security for Indian steel industry has been at the top of our agenda. Our Government has taken several efforts towards this and the orders passed by the Ministry of Mines is an important step in this direction,” Pradhan said, while lauding the initiative.