Temp permit to allow Nalco mining at Panchpatmali

Bhubaneswar: In a major relief to the state-run National Aluminium Company (Nalco), the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has given a temporary one-year permit, thus allowing the Navratna PSU to start mining at Panchpatmali in Koraput district.

“We have been directed by the MoEF to allow Nalco for mining at Panchpatmali through a temporary work permit (TWP). It’ll take 2/3 days to clear the formalities,” said Deepak Mohanty, Director of Mines.

Excavation at Panchpatmali, with an estimated bauxite deposit of over 300 million tonne was suspended after the company’s 30-year mining lease expired on November 16, 2012. The company, to resume operation at the site had applied the Ministry for renewal of the lease on October 2010, one year 10 months before the expiry. Notably, the apex court has stipulated that a company seeking renewal of a lease must apply two years before the lease expires.

The Ministry, though agreed for the TWP, had asked Nalco to approach the Supreme Court to condole the two months lapse period.

According to Nalco officials, the SC has condoned the delay of submission of forest diversion proposal to renew its mining lease.  

The Nalco refinery at Damanjodi is currently running at low capacity using the bauxite stocked up before the crisis.  

“We expect soon to resume operation at the mining site after the state government’s permission,” said a company official requesting anonymity.