India-based JSW Steel is planning to obtain mining leases in the state of Karnataka following the Supreme Court’s decision to partially lift the mining ban in the state.

The company is looking to bid for iron ore mining blocks which are expected to go up for auction after the apex court’s judgment.

JSW Steel does not possess a captive iron ore mine, despite having a production capacity of 14 million tonnes.

JSW Steel joint managing director Seshagiri Rao told Reuters that the number of mines that the company is going to bid for will depend upon the details of the auction process.

The company might continue to import iron ore, the primary raw material for producing steel, until domestic production increases, Rao added.

India’s apex court in its judgment last week allowed 117 mines in A & B categories to resume operations in Karnataka after securing required regulatory approvals.

However, it cancelled the leases of 49 iron ore firms in Category C over illegal mining activities and said the leases will be allocated to the highest bidder.

The three categories were developed to identify the illegalities at the mines – mines with least or no illegality were classified under Category A, and mines with high illegalities were placed in Category C.

Karnataka’s iron ore production dropped from 18% of the country’s total production in fiscal 2009-10 to 8% in fiscal 2011-12 due to the mining ban.

JSW currently operates an iron ore joint venture in Karnataka that has a production capacity of 2.5 million tonnes per annum.

Image: India’s apex court allowed 117 mines in A & B categories to resume operations in Karnataka after securing the required regulatory approvals. Photo: dan.

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