First auction of Bellary iron ore to begin on 14 September

In a relief to the iron and steel industries, the online auction of existing iron ore stockpiles with mining companies in Karnataka will begin on 14 September, and steelmakers have been invited to register.

The Supreme Court had imposed a blanket ban on iron ore mining and transport in the state after the court's special empowered committee found widespread malpractices and illegalities by private miners, to the detriment of the environment and losses to the exchequer.

The ban had left steelmakers gasping and moaning about the paucity of the vital raw material, following which the apex court ruled that the stockpile of over 25 million tonnes already lying with miners could be auctioned at the rate of 1.5 million tonnes a month.

The Metal Scrap Trade Corp Ltd (MSTC), a union government enterprise, was asked to run the auction. "The first auction will be conducted on 14 September," said an official of the MSTC. An official of Karnataka's mines and geology department confirmed the development.

"Initially, auctions will be for 12,000 tonnes per week (including different grades of ore). The the target is to increase it to about 40,000 tonnes a day,'' said H R Srinivasa, director, mines and geology.

The apex court has appointed the three-member monitoring committee comprising Deepak Sharma, additional principal chief conservator of forests, U V Singh, chief conservator of forests and H R Srinivasa. They will supervise the sale and transportation of the existing iron ore.