India’s largest iron ore miner National Mineral Development Corporation on Tuesday said it would be better to nationalise small miners around the country since they are often found guilty of illegal mining and environmental degradation.
The state-run miner with an iron ore production capacity of 30 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) has been hit by the Supreme Court ban on all mining activities in Bellary in Karnataka. The company said that the Lokayukt report released last week as well as the SC order gave an impression that every miner was at fault, which was not correct.The Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce has appealed to Karnataka that mining around Bellary be restored as iron ore supplies are dwindling.
“The honourable court’s intention behind the 1-week ban was to take stock of the situation at the ground level and find out which are the miners who have been flouting the law,” said Rana Som, chairman, NMDC. “But it has given rise to the impression that all mining companies in the state are involved in illegal activities and are not concerned about the environment. However, small miners who are new to the business, are prone to either illegal mining or flouting environmental norms.”
The company, which is one of the most profitable public sector firms in the country, said the nationalisation of such small companies could be one way of solving the problem.
“Mining should always be done scientifically and that requires both scale and expertise,” Som said. “It is always advocated that only big corporates or multinational companies and preferably PSUs should get into it. If there is demand for nationalisation of small mining companies it would be in the interest of the nation.”