Jindal Steel & Power (JSPL) has urged the Supreme Court to reject the CEC’s report that recommended recovery of 30% of the notional value of the iron ore allegedly produced by the company in excess from Tantra-Raikela Bandhal iron ore mines in Odisha.
It said that the apex court-appointed panel in its October report had arbitrarily recommended the recovery of Rs 137.81 crore computed on the alleged excess production of 2270497 MT of iron ore allegedly produced from the Tantra-Raikela Bandhal iron ore mines.
While both CEC and the state government had alleged excess production by JSPL between 2003 to 2009, the company has asked the apex court to reject the panel’s recommendations, saying the report suffers from complete and abject non-application of mind.
Denying any wrongdoing, JSPL said that it has not contravened any provision of law and is not liable to make payment of any part of the notional value of Rs 137.81 crore computed on the alleged excess production of 2270497 MT. “No law provides for recovery of any amount of the notional value of excess production and any recommendation by the CEC to the contrary is wholly without any basis” and not in accordance with the mining laws, it said. JSPL, which was leased the iron ore mine for a 20 -year period starting May 25, 1985, is at present operating the mine under the first deemed renewal clause of the Mineral Concession Rules 1960.
Prior to 2005, there was no limit prescribed on the production of iron ore fines, which are only a by-product generated during production of sized iron-ore, it stated.
According to JSPL, the low grade iron ore fines recovered from OB dumps lying since 1993 cannot be taken into consideration. Under the MMDR Act, mining operations means extracting the mineral from the mine, thus the recovery of low grade iron ore fines from the dumped materials lying within the leasehold area accumulated from 1993 to 2004 cannot be classified as mining, the firm said, adding that “the low grade fines recovered from the OB dumps lying within the leasehold area have been removed from the lease area under valid transit permit upon payment of royalty to the Odisha government” as per the law.
The company in its objections said that the MMDR Act had no application in its case as it is a settled law that the provision can be invoked only in the event a mineral is raised outside the mining lease area i.e. on a land that is occupied without lawful authority.
It further told the top court that the provision related to such recovery cannot be invoked against a mining leaseholder so long as the latter extracts mineral from within its leasehold area and have transported the minerals after taking transit permits and making due payment of royalty.