After putting seven mineral blocks under the hammer, the State Government is making all-out efforts to invite tenders for auction of eight of the 16 iron ore mines, leases of which will expire on March 31, 2020.
The eight iron ore blocks that will be put up for auction will be decided at a high-level meeting to be held in a day or two. Of 24 functional merchant mines, leases of which are set to lapse by March next year, geological reports of 19 blocks prepared by the leaseholders have been submitted to SBI Capitals Market Ltd (SBI CAPS) for evaluation of mineral resources.
SBICAPS, the transaction adviser for e-auction of mines, is reported to have prepared the tender document, approval of which has been obtained from authorities concerned of the Union Government, official sources said. The State Government has planned to issue notice inviting tender (NIT) for the eight iron ore blocks in the second or third week of this month.
Sources in the Steel and Mines department said 16 mineral blocks explored to G-2 level and 24 working leases expiring on March 31, 2020, will be auctioned during the current financial year. Of 24 functional mines, 16 are iron ore blocks. The 16 mines have an approved capacity to produce 79 million tonnes of iron ore per annum.
Delay in the auction of these mines before the lapse of leases will create iron ore shortfall of about 60 million tonnes. The State Government had recently informed the Assembly that 40 mining blocks have been readied for auction during the current financial year.
Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick said the Government, which had auctioned five mineral blocks including three iron ore mines as per Mineral Auction Rules, 2015 by May 2017, could not proceed with e-auction in 2017-18 and 2018-19 due to restrictions imposed by the Delhi High Court.
E-auction of Chandiposhi and Purheibahal iron ore blocks in Sundargarh district is facing legal hurdles with the Centre yet to respond to the State Government’s request for extension of the mining area limit for grant of the lease.
The State has requested the Centre to raise the permissible limit from 10 square kilometers to 75 square kilometers purportedly to facilitate Tata Steel and the State-run SAIL’s participation in the auctions.
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