KIOCL gets approval for Ballari forest land diversion

KIOCL gets Stage-1 approval for diversion of forest land for mining in Ballari

The mining plan

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

Steel ministry undertaking KIOCL Ltd has crossed a major hurdle in its race towards winning a captive iron ore mine after 17 years.

The company has received a Stage-1 approval from the Ministry of environment, forest and climate change (forest conservation division), the government of India for diversion of 401.5761 hectares of forest land for iron ore and manganese ore mining in Devadari Hill Range in Swamimalai block forest, Sandur taluk in Ballari district. This includes 388 hectares for mining and 13.5761 hectares for building approach roads.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (Forest Conservation Division), The government of India issued a communication in this regard on June 24, 2021.

Once the mining commences in this region, KIOCL is expected to generate direct employment to around 500 persons and indirect jobs to 1,000 persons.

The company, which operates a 3.5 million tonne per annum iron pellet plant at Mangaluru had stopped mining at its earlier captive mines in Kudremukh hill range in Chikkamagaluru district in 2006 after a Supreme Court order prohibited mining in the eco-sensitive forest area.

Since then, the export-oriented company has been sourcing iron ore from NMDC’s mines in Chhattisgarh to run its pellet plant.

KIOCL had made its application to the state government in 2017 for the allotment of captive mines in the Devadari hill range under the reservation quota available for public sector mining companies.

“We have received stage-1 approval. We still need to get some more approvals before we go for the stage-2 approval from the MoEF&CC. Subsequently, we will go for the registration of the mining lease with the state government for a period of 50 years,” M V Subba Rao, Chairman, and Managing Director, KIOCL Ltd told DH.

He said the company expects to secure all the approvals within the next year and commence mining operations thereafter. The company will be investing around Rs 1,500 crore to start mining in the region, including setting up a beneficiation plant.

It has already prepared the mining plan. The proposed mining area is estimated to yield a total of 33.53 million tonnes of iron ore. To begin with, the company plans to generate half a million tonne of iron ore and scale it up to 2 million tonnes per annum over a period of five years.

The government of Karnataka on March 22, 2016, had recommended the proposal to the Ministry of Mines, Government of India for reservation of an area of 470.40 hectares in Devadari range, Sandur taluk, Ballari district for iron ore and manganese in favour of KIOCL Ltd under the provision of Section 17A(2) and 17A(2A) of MMDR Act. On approval from the ministry of mines, the state government notified on January 1, 2017, the said land in favour of KIOCL Ltd. The notified area consists of mainly shrubs and small trees.

Expansion & modernisation

The company is also embarking on a forward integration programme that involves an investment in excess of Rs 1,000 crore. This includes the setting up of ductile iron spun pipe (DISP) project at a cost of Rs 836 crore. The company has floated tenders for the same and is awaiting clearance from the DPIIT.

It has also taken up a project to modernise its 3.5 million tonnes per annum capacity pellet plant at Mangaluru. The company has installed a Barrel-type Blender Reclaimer of 1,000 tonnes per hour capacity at a cost of Rs 17.50 crore. The reclaimer enables the company to blend different types of iron ore fines received from various sources by its forward and backward movement, thereby helps in increasing the operational flexibility and improve productivity, Subba Rao added.

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