While the resumption of regular mining is getting delayed in Karnataka, there is some good news for the ore-starved steel industry, as one of the Category A mining companies has got approval to put on auction some of its low-grade iron ore.
The Bangalore-based Mineral Enterprises Limited (MEL), that operates mines in Chitradurga district and is classified under Category A, has been permitted by the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee to put on auction about 6.7 million tonnes (mt) of iron ore.
“We have been dumping very low-grade iron ore in one of our mines in the Chitradurga district for over 20 years. We have recently got an approval to offload this ore and it has been classified as low-grade iron ore (51-52 per cent Fe grade). Till now, we have managed to auction 6.1 mt and 4.9 mt have been despatched,” Basant Poddar, managing director, MEL told Business Standard.
He said the company would dispatch about 20,000 tonnes per day and clear the stock over the next three months. The company has managed to secure an average Rs 756 a tonne at the e-auctions for this ore. Poddar said the company has set up railway sidings up to its mine heads in Chitradurga and it can evacuate the dumps easily.
The iron ore-starved steel industry had been seeking release of low-grade iron ore into the state to tide over the shortage. Though there are not many companies that can make use of very low-grade iron ore in the country, some like JSW Steel; BMM Ispat; MSPL and Janaki Steel are equipped to beneficiate the low-grade iron ore and convert it into pellets, the steel industry sources said. The steel industry in and around Karnataka, that is dependent on iron ore from mines in the state, require about 32 mt of iron ore per annum. JSW Steel alone, which operates an 11 mt per annum steel plant in Bellary district of Karnataka requires about 20 mt per annum.
Meanwhile, four mining companies — B Kumar Gouda; Tiffin Barytes; E Rama Murthy and Nadeem Minerals — in Category A have resumed mining and would bring to the market about two mt of iron ore.