Business Standard, March 18, 2015
Odisha govt had moved mines ministry seeking Karlapat deposits in OMC's favour, stating it will be in the interest of mineral conservation and prudent exploitation
The Union mines ministry has decided to allocate the Karlapat bauxite mines to state-run mining company, Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).
The state government had moved the ministry in June 2013, seeking the Karlapat deposits in OMC’s favour, stating that it will be in the interest of mineral conservation and prudent exploitation.
“The ministry of mines had received a request from the Odisha government for reservation of Karlapat bauxite deposit over an area of 3,113.25 hectare (ha) in Kalahandidistrict in favour of OMC Ltd under Section 17 A (2) of the erstwhile Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957. The proposal was approved and conveyed to the state government by the ministry”, Union minister of state for mines Vishnu Deo Sai stated in reply to a query in theLok Sabha on March 16.
The Karlapat bauxite mines spread over 3,002.49 hectares has estimated reserves of 207 million tonne which includes 153 tonne proven reserve and 54 million tonne probable reserve. The state government had sought reservation of the bauxite mines for 30 years, arguing that it will ensure fair and equitable distribution of the raw material.
Besides, the government felt such an arrangement will help accrue more economic returns for the state by way of royalty, taxes and dividend, thereby providing more funds for developmental activities. OMC securing the Karlapat mines has offered a glimmer of hope to Vedanta Group owned firm Sesa Sterlite’s alumina refinery at Lanjigarh.
The one million tonne refinery without any raw material linkages was continuing operations at a low capacity on bauxite sourced from Gujarat and Chattisgarh and also imports from nations like New Guinea. OMC had entered into an agreement with the Vedanta Group firm for supplying 150 million tonne of bauxite for the Lanjigarh refinery.
The attempts to supply bauxite from the Niyamgiri deposits to the Vedanta alumina refinery were thwarted with Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) withdrawing the clearances to the mining project, a decision which was later endorsed by the local gram sabhas convened on the direction of the Supreme Court.