Vedanta Resources, an India-focused metals and mining company headquartered in the UK, has received another setback after a tribal community voted against the company’s proposed bauxite mining project atop Niyamgiri Hills in India’s Odisha state.
Under direction of the Supreme Court, the seventh gram sabha (a village meeting) was held at Phuldumer village in Kalahandi district more than 500km south-west of Bhubaneswar, where the majority of the local community voted against the bauxite mining project.
In April 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the decision to allow Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite in two districts of the eastern state rests with local tribes.
Following this, the state decided to conduct gram sabhas in 12 villages to look into environmental and religious issues and the rights of the tribes.
So far, seven of the 12 gram sabhas voted against the project.
India is one of the largest producers of bauxite in the world.
Upon completion of all the proposed 12 meetings, a final report will be submitted by the state to the Supreme Court by the end of August in order to take a final decision.
Vedanta, which is owned by Indian businessman Anil Agarwal, plans to mine the Niyamgiri hill range, which is believed to be the home of deity Niyam Rajawhich worshipped by the local tribe Dongria Kondhhome.
Vedanta Resources formed a joint venture with state owned Orissa Mining Corporation to develop the mine under a memorandum of understanding.
If the London-listed company fails to mine bauxite from the state, it will be forced to re-assess the operations of its Lanjigarh plant in Kalahandi district, which has been closed several times due to a lack of sufficient raw material.
Image: India is one of the largest producers of bauxite in the world. Photo: Werner Schellmann.