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Govt protests mine lease

Ranchi, Dec. 29: The Jharkhand government has decided to challenge the mining tribunal order renewing mining lease to Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO) in the High Court. It is also ready to give 'virgin' iron ore reserves to Mittal Steel for captive mining.

The state's mines and geology minister, Madhu Koda, maintained that his government will fight nail and tooth for the 'return' of Chiria mines.

'The mining tribunal order will soon be challenged in the High Court. In any case there is no dearth of iron ore reserves in the state. We are ready to give other virgin mines to Mittal Steel and other industrial houses, who have signed MoUs during the recent past,' he added.

The minister said his government was ready to give the Mittals' virgin iron ore reserves for captive mining in Ursian, Budhaburu, Chutiburu or any other 'suitable' place.

'The quality of iron ore available in these places is very much comparable to the ones found in Chiria mines. It is a separate thing that the Mittal Steel representatives have not spoken to us on the issue, but we are ready to extend them all possible help,' he added.

The mining tribunal recently ordered renewal of mining lease granted to IISCO.

This company has been carrying out its operations at the Chiria mines for the last several decades.

But, during the last six months or so the Jharkhand government refused to renew their mining leases at three places and asked them to stop carrying out their mining operations.

Consequently, IISCO approached the Jharkhand High Court for justice. The High Court stayed the Jharkhand government order and transferred the case to mining tribunal.

This issue was also raised during the last two Assembly sessions, but the government categorically said the mining leases granted to IISCO will not be renewed at any cost.

The Chiria mines are the country's biggest iron ore mines, with 2.5 billion tonne reserves.

Sources said before signing MoU for setting up a 12 million tonne steel plant in Jharkhand, steel czar Laxmi Niwas Mittal had secured a word from chief minister Arjun Munda that he will be given Chiria mines for captive mining.

Tatas and other industrial giants who have agreed to set up new steel plants have been eyeing the Chiria mines.

Over 40 MoUs related to the steel sector have been signed over the last two months.

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