India: Odisha govt charts plan for stock disposal at auctioned mines
A meeting was held between the Principal Secretary, Department of Steel & Mines, Government of Odisha, Director of Mines and Special Secretary in the Department of Steel & Mines, government of Odisha and the Managing Director of OMC, on October 20, 2020 to discuss the modalities for disposal of the minerals and other infrastructure at the auctioned mines.
The minutes of the meeting held are mentioned below:-
It was decided that the Director of Mines will intimate to the OMC managing director the list of all auctioned mining leases along with the status of stocks which are likely to be disposed of by October 31, 2020. After this, the MD, OMC will issue an order deputing the security and other staff to assist concerned circle officers in carrying out the task of taking over the stock to be disposed of. The order will be effective from November 1, 2020 till the final disposal.
The Director of Mines, through officers of respective JDMs, will request the ex-lessees to nominate representatives who will form members of committees for the purpose of verification of the quantity and grade of ore and for verification of infrastructure.
The stock left undisposed in respect of minerals as per the closing balance captured under i3MS and that of the infrastructure as intimated by the lessee as on November 1, 2020 will be taken over by officials of the circle office and handed over to the concerned staff of OMC.
The ex-lessees will furnish an undertaking mentioning the quantum of stocks, names of representatives to JDM/DDM who will allow entry for stock verification. Ex-lessees will be responsible for any shortage or excess stock discovered.
OMC will dispose of the mineral stock.
It may be mentioned that the closing balance stock of iron ore as on March 31, 2020 was 46.96 mn t. The projected despatch volumes up to September 30, 2002 were 18.92 mn t while the projected quantity to be left out as on October 1, 2020 was 28.04 mn t.
Where manganese ore is concerned, the closing balance quantity as on March 31, 2020 was 103,907 t while the projected despatches up to September 30, 2020 were at 59,814 t. The projected quantity to be left out as on October 1, 2020 was 44,094 t.
In chromite minerals, the closing balance quantity as on March 31, 2020 was 662,107 t. The projected despatches up to September 30, 2020 were 600,376 t while the projected quantity to be left out as on October 1, 2020 was 21,731 t.
Former lessees seek extension
Meanwhile, former lessee of Nuagaon iron ore mine in Odisha, KJS Ahluwalia, has moved the High Court of Orissa seeking six more months on the ground that COVID-19 and monsoons had hampered despatches. Until March 31, 2020, KJS Ahluwalia held mining rights to the 767.284 ha iron ore mine bagged by JSW Steel on commitment of 95.2% in premium. Under Mining Concession Rules, 2016 lessees can get six months and seek an additional month thereafter to despatch already mined material. In the case of the 24 operating mines auctioned this year, this period comes to an end on October 31, 2020.
However, mining rules also contain a "force majeure" clause (12(1) (ff)) that can be invoked in case of an "act of god", war, rioting or any event that was beyond the control of the lessee. According to KJS Ahluwalia, since the pandemic was an act of god, the miner deserves an additional six months to despatch 3.8 MnT of high-grade ore which it is only being able to move out at the rate of 11,600 tonnes per day, as per latest SteelMint reports.
The move to seek more time is likely to be met with resistance from both the state and new lessees. A dozen others, including Ghanshyam Misra, Rungta Mines, Feegrade, Serajuddin, KMC, KN Ram and Essel Mining had also written to the Odisha government seeking 1-7 additional months.
Iron ore stock at mines: