New Delhi: Mineral bearing states of Odisha, Karnataka and Maharashtra are likely to put 22 iron ore mines under the hammer in the upcoming mines auction in October and November this year. While Karnataka is likely to auction 15 iron ore mines, Odisha and Maharashtra may auction six mines and one mine respectively. “We expect 22 iron ore mines to be auctioned by states in the auction slated for October-November," mines secretary Balvinder Kumar said.

Kumar added that Karnataka may auction 15 mines as per the order of the Supreme Court. In July, the apex court directed the Karnataka government to commence “forthwith" the auctioning of 15 ‘C’ category iron ore mines in which end-user firms dealing in steel, sponge iron or pelletisation only, would be able to take part. The apex court also asked the authorities to conclude the auctioning process within “32 weeks from today (30 July)".

It said that “public sector undertakings end users and existing end user firms" could take part in the bidding process of the mines spread over Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumakuru districts. The state government in compliance with the apex court’s order had in September, 2013 cancelled 51 ‘C’ category mining leases. The Central Empowered Committee had categorised 51 leases into ‘C’ category in view of gross illegalities.

“Besides, we expect Odisha to auction 6 mines and Maharashtra to put one iron ore mine on the block," Kumar said. As per government data, domestic production of iron ore was 169 million tonnes (MT) in 2011-12 and 137 MT in 2012-13 against the consumption of 101 MT and 103 MT, respectively. The 12 mineral-producing states, including Odisha, will auction 82 mining blocks that contain minerals such as iron ore, bauxite, limestone by October-November this year.

In March this year, the government passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Amendment Act, 2015, which paves the way for states to auction iron ore and non-coal mineral mines.

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