SC rejects mining company’s plea to sell iron ore

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday reiterated its verdict holding illegal all the mining leases in Goa after Nov 22, 2007, as it dismissed a plea by a mining company seeking to restrain the Goa government from selling the iron ore extracted by it before Nov 22, 2007 and be itself allowed to sell this.

The mining company, M/s Bandekar Brothers Private Limited, in its application had contended that it had extracted 67,285 tonnes of iron ore (Grade 63.19 percent Fe approximately) and 1,00,000 tonnes of old dump (grade 46.15 percent Fe approximately) before Nov 22, 2007 – when its mining leases were valid thus iron ore mined prior to that could not be taken over and sold by the government.

Referring to its earlier verdict of April 21, 2014, that all the deemed mining leases had expired Nov 22, 2007, the apex court green bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice A.K.Sikri in their order said: “It is, therefore, difficult for us to accept the prayers made by the applicant, either for the release of the extracted mineral ore to the applicant, or the liberty to sell the same at its own.”

The apex court by its April 21, 2014, verdict had said that all the mining leases in Goa had expired on Nov 22, 1987, and granting maximum renewal period of 20 years, their deemed renewal too came to end on Nov 22, 2007, thus all deemed mining leases after that were illegal.

The court had said this while sustaining Sep 10, 2012, order of the Goa government suspending mining operations in the State and Sep 14, 2012, order of the MoEF suspending the environmental clearances granted to these mines.

The apex court while declining the prayer by M/s Bandekar Brothers Private Limited noted the submission by amicus curiae A.D.N.Rao that the court by its Nov 11, 2013, order had said that a three- member monitoring committee will prepare an inventory of the excavated mineral ores lying in different mines/stockyards/jetties/ports by Goa government’s Department of Mines and Geology and sell them through e-auction.

Having referred to all its earlier orders and the provisions of the Mineral Rules that mandates that the excavated mineral ore is liable to be removed by the lessee within a period of six months, the court in its order said, “We find no merit in the prayers made in application by M/s Bandekar Brothers Private Limited and same is dismissed.”

In the meanwhile, Sesa Sterlite in a statement said, “It is being clarified that today’s developments in Supreme Court does not relate to Sesa Sterlite. The written order of the Supreme Court is still awaited. As per our understanding, the situation, which is prevailing since April 21, 2014 judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, remains the same even today (Tuesday).”

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