Odisha to make fresh application for Karlapat bauxite mines

Bhubaneswar: Hit by acute shortage of raw materials that led to closure of Vedanta's refinery at Lanjigarh, Odisha government on Monday said it would explore every possibility of undertaking bauxite mining at Karlapat reserve in Kalahandi district.

"We have decided to submit a revised application seeking permission of the Centre for undertaking bauxite mining at Karlapat reserve," Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) CMD, Saswat Mishra told reporters after attending a meeting convened by the chief secretary.

Mishra said though the state government was set to go for bauxite mining at Karlapat, it could not proceed further as the area comprised of a wildlife sanctuary. Therefore, Mishra said, the government would start a fresh field verification at Karlapat on how to go for mining excluding the sanctuary area.

During verification, the mines department would assess the quantity of bauxite reserved outside sanctuary area, the amount of forest and non-forest land in mine-able mineral bearing area and other factors, Mishra said.

While the state government has already identified reserve of bauxite about 5 km from the sanctuary, the Supreme Court guidelines clearly prohibited any mining activities within 10 km radius from any wildlife habitat.

Karlapat reserve spread over 31,183 hectare is estimated to have about 200 million tonne bauxite, sources said.

"Even as the state government gets mining permission at Karlapat, it will take about three years to start the mining operation," Mishra said.

Asked whether the process of exploring Karlapat reserve was being taken for Vedanta, the OMC chief said, "the state government is taking steps to increase its raw material capacity. No specific steps for Vedanta as said".

Meanwhile, the state government has also decided not to make recommendation for any private company for allocation of mineral deposits yet to be leased out.

"The state government wants to keep all unallocated mineral deposits for OMC to meet the requirement of local industries," an official said.