Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday asked operating mining companies in Odisha to increase output within permissible ceilings to ensure supplies to steel companies in the wake of closure of six mines in the state, the government said on Tuesday. “Union Minister of Mines Narendra Singh Tomar today met mining companies from Odisha to review the production of iron ore, subsequent to the closure of six mines in Odisha,” the Ministry of Mines said in a statement.
The statement said it was noted that some miners still have a headroom to increase production within their permissible environment clearance and other limits. “The minister requested the miners to follow the Supreme Court orders on mining and endeavour to increase their production to the maximum possible within their permissible ceilings,” the statement said. Though the production in January is expected to be lower, the operating miners assured that they shall step up production so that the steel industry remains fully supplied, it said.
The minister exhorted the miners to increase production and assured them that the Ministry will facilitate in enhancing production and miners were free to approach the Ministry with specific problems which they may encounter, it added. The Odisha government earlier this month has suspended operations in six mines that failed to pay penalties by December 31 for overproduction and illegal activities.
The Supreme Court had on August 2 last year imposed a penalty on 152 iron ore and manganese lessees in the state for illegal mining. These mines were found to have conducted operations without forest and environment clearances, sometimes beyond the permitted area, between 2000 and 2011. The state had a target of collecting Rs 17,576 crore as penalty by the end of 2017 but could accrue only Rs 8,223 crore, as per Odisha’s Steel and Mines minister Prafulla Mallick.