The Karnataka government has finalised a list of 15 more mines in C category for exploration in the second phase, while directing the state-owned Mineral Exploration Corporation (MECL) to complete the exploration of reserves by June 2016.
The move comes after the Supreme Court recently allowed the state government to auction the first 15 mines in C category within 32 weeks.
“We have set in motion the process for auctioning 15 mines in C category. The preparation of tender documents are currently going on and we will complete auction as per the rules published by the government of India within the deadline set by the Apex Court,” Nilaya Mitash, secretary of mines in Commerce and Industries Department, government of Karnataka, told FE.
The central empowered committee of the Supreme Court has classified mining leases in Karnataka into three categories of which the most illegal ones have been clubbed under C category mines.
In the second phase, MECL will conduct exploration in 10 mines in Ballari, two mines in Chitradurga and three mines in Tumakuru districts. They include S B Minerals, Bharat Mines and Minerals, Mysore Minerals, Trident Minerals, Rajapur Mines, Mysore Stone Ware Pipes and Potteries and Shanthalakshmi Jayaram among others.
He said the government has asked MECL to carry out exploration in another 15 mines in the second phase and complete it by June 2016. During the third phase, exploration will be conducted for another 12 mines, while the remaining nine mines under the C category will not be explored due to small size as recommended by the Supreme Court.
According to industry estimates, these mines could possess around 200 million tonne of iron ore. The exploration is carried out basically to ascertain the exact quantity of iron ore reserves left in these mines before they are auctioned to end users through a transparent bidding process.
The Supreme Court, in its order dated April 12, 2013, had directed the Karnataka government to cancel the leases of 51 mines under C category because of rampant illegal mining.