Court asks mining company to give details of rare mine

Nov 30, 2016

CHENNAI: A court-appointed amicus curiae in the suo motu PIL proceedings examining the fairness of procedure in allotting 77 beach sand-mining licences involving extraction of rare atomic minerals worth thousands of crores of rupee has submitted its status report seeking interim directions from the court.Following this, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan issued directives that sand mining baron Vaikundarajan and his mining company VV Minerals has to provide details of "estimated reserves of monazite, the concentration of monazite in the feed material, the percentage of recovery of monazite and the annual quantity handled and the method and final disposal of tailings for each mine from 2007" to the department of atomic energy (DAE) within two weeks. DAE would then submit an affidavit within two weeks thereafter, said the bench. The bench impleaded commissioner of customs and central excise, Thoothukudi port, regional commissioner of customs and central excise in the city and the VO Chidambaranar Port Trust chairman, Thoothukudi in the matter. Amicus curiae V Suresh had sought to stop all export of garnet, ilmenite and all other beach sand minerals originating from the state along with directions to district collectors of Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari to take inventory of all available stock of raw sand and minerals and seize it together with sealing of all beach sand mineral processing plants in the districts.
There is undoubtedly a sea of litigations being initiated in different courts broadly arising from the same issue (of mining), said the bench directing Suresh and Vaikundarajan to "work out which writ petitions/suits were liable to be maintained...so that courts are not unnecessarily burdened by different suit proceedings and writs and possibility of conflict of orders," said the bench posting the matter for further hearing on January 11. After Suresh sought information saying garnet and ilmenite continued to be exported from Tuticorin port despite prohibition of mining and non-issuance of transport licenses post-2013, counsel for VV Minerals and Vaikundarajan said exports were undertaken from bonded warehouses after payment of royalty. The case started after Victor Rajamanikam moved the court saying rare beach minerals worth more than Rs1 lakh crore had been plundered by many companies along Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari coasts. Tuticorin-based V V Minerals and others had exported 4.55 lakh tonnes of garnet, radioactive monazite, zircon, leucoxene and sillimanite by modifying 16 existing mining leases without the concurrence of the Centre, he said in the PIL. After he withdrew the PIL, the bench treated the issue as suo motu PIL proceedings and appointed Suresh as amicus curiae.

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