Karnataka sees 1,200 fresh mining licence seekers despite export ban

The controversy over iron ore mining and the ban on export of the mineral have clearly failed to deter fresh licence seekers. Over 1200 firms, including steel giants ArcelorMittal and Korea's Posco, have applied for fresh mining licences, according to V P Baligar, principal secretary in the state's large and medium industries department.

The pending applications are being heard by the secretary of the department. ''The hearing is likely to be completed in a day or two. After that we will recommend the names of the companies to the centre for licences,'' Baligar said.

He added that care would be taken to see that only those interested in value addition are recommended. Priority will be given to the ones who entered into memorandum of understandings with the state government at the global investors meet (GIM) held in Bangalore in June. The government had signed agreements with 50 companies during the GIM, including ArcelorMittal, Posco, Brahmani, and Essar Steels.

Industries minister Murugesh Nirani added that work on 52 projects worth Rs2.2 lakh has already started. ''We have issued preliminary and final notification for acquisition of 84,000 acres of land in different districts except Bangalore. We are yet to issue notification for the acquisition of another 30,000 acres,'' he said.

Korea's Posco will pump in Rs32,000 crore to establish its plant in Koppal. London-listed ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steel producer, will invest about Rs30,000 crore, said Nirani.

Meanwhile, chief minister B S Yeddyurappa will head a delegation on a tour to China from September 11-15. The delegation will attend the World Expo at Shanghai before participating in the World Economic Forum in Tianjin. The team includes industries minister Murugesh Nirani, chief secretary S V Ranganath, and 11 industrialists.