Bhubaneswar: Odisha, India’s top iron ore mining state, is likely to produce 100 million tonnes of ore in the 2017/18 fiscal year, in line with its target, despite authorities ordering the closure of some mines, a senior government official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Odisha suspended operations of seven iron ore mines after leaseholders failed to meet a deadline on 31 December, fixed by the Supreme Court, for paying penalties for illegally extracting ore between 2000 and 2011.

Odisha accounted for more than half of India’s total 192 million tonnes of iron ore produced in the fiscal year to March 2017. Between April and December, the state generated 78 million tonnes of iron ore, including 14.57 million tonnes produced by the seven mines that have now been shut down, Deepak Kumar Mohanty, Odisha’s mining director, told Reuters.

“Even if these mines are closed, there is scope to reach to 100 million tonnes because other operational mines can enhance production," Mohanty said.

The iron ore mines that were forced to close down include those operated by state-owned Industrial Development Corporation Of Odisha Ltd.

After finding 131 miners guilty of violating environmental and other guidelines, the Supreme Court last year levied penalties on them.

But the state government of Odisha has so far recovered only Rs8,249 crore as against Rs19,000 crore of combined penalties.

Some miners had petitioned the Supreme Court to extend the deadline, but the court rejected this. Reuters