Environment ministry panel refuses clearance to SAIL’s iron ore mines in Jharkhand

NEW DELHI: A high level committee of the environment ministry has refused clearances for SAIL’s three key iron ore mines in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district, as the area is severely polluted and appropriate control measures are not in place.

The mines, Jhillingburu-I, Jhillingburu-II and Topailore, are located in Gua iron ore reserves and are estimated to hold 82,812.6 million tonne of deposits.

Steel minister Beni Prasad Verma said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha that the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the environment ministry had examined the proposals on January 24, 2012 for issuance of terms of reference for preparation of environment impact assessment/environment management plan.

However, the EAC observed that these mines are located in West Singhbum district, an area identified as severely polluted in terms of the respirable suspended particulate matter exceeding the prescribed limits.

“The EAC, therefore, deferred and kept the proposals in abeyance till appropriate control measures are implemented in the said area. The proposal is still pending with the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for approval,” Verma said.

He added that “the shortfall in the supplies of iron ore as a result of the closures of mines is being met from other operating mines as a short term measure.”

The steel minister further said that his ministry has taken up the matter on several occasions with the MoEF to expedite the grant of forest and environment clearances in respect of pending iron ore mines including Gua.

SAIL had sought forest clearance for the Topailore mine in September 2006, while approvals for Jhillingburu-I and Jhillingburu-II mines were sought in July 2008.

The three mines are critical for SAIL’s expansion plans, which is in talks with South Korean steel major Posco for setting up a new 3 million tonne plant in Bokaro, adjacent to its existing plant there.

Besides, it has also been planning to set up a 5 MT capacity new plant in Sindri. Iron ore for both the proposed plants are to be sourced from Gua and Chiria mines in Jharkhand.

[Sources – Times of India]

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