The Supreme Court of India has allowed Sarda Mines (SMPL) to resume mining operations in the state of Odisha if it pays an environmental fine of Rs933m ($139m) to the state government.

In its ruling, the court said SMPL should comply with its directions and deposit the amount by the end of next month.

SMPL was a supplier of high-quality ore to the Naveen Jindal-led Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL) plant.

JSPL will use iron ore from Sarda Mines for its Barbil and Raigarh factories, which lie at the bottom of the Thakurani iron ore mines in Odisha where Sarda operates a 5Mt mine.

In March 2014, all mining and mining-related activities were suspended at 26 iron ore and manganese mines of JSPL in Odisha due to the absence of environmental clearances at the JSPL plant.

The Economic Times cited SMPL counsel as saying that, on 15 January 2020, the Supreme Court allowed its client to restart mining operations at the Thakurani deposit, provided its clears the debts to the state government within a month.

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By GlobalData

The Government of Odisha and the central empowered committee (CEC), a panel appointed by the Supreme Court, had expressed no objection towards SMPL resuming operations at the mines on the condition that it deposited the respective dues and strictly complied with all other regulations and factors for performing mining operations.

In August 2017, the Supreme Court of India ordered mining firms operating in the state of Odisha without environmental approval to pay a 100% fine on the price of large quantities of unlawfully extracted iron and manganese ores.

In 2017 the Supreme Court intervened after public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by NGO Common Cause, which had sought intervention to cease illegal mining in the state.