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Orissa will move the Supreme Court against a high court order disapproving its grant of permission to South Korean steel major POSCO to prospect for iron ore in Sundergarh district, an official said Saturday.

A bench of the Orissa High Court July 14 set aside the permission granted to POSCO last year for prospecting iron ore in over 2,500 hectares in the Khandadhar hills in Sundergarh.

“We have decided to appeal the Supreme Court against the high court order. We will file a petition in two-three weeks time,” a senior government official told IANS.

POSCO had signed a memorandum of understanding June 22, 2005 for a 12 million-tonne steel plant near the port town of Paradip, some 100 km from here, with an investment of $12 billion – the largest foreign direct investment in India.

The project, scheduled to be set up by 2016, has been delayed due to various reasons, including protests by local residents against land acquisition.

Last year, the state government recommended POSCO India to the central government for prospecting the iron ore rich area of Khandadhar hills despite objections by some local companies.

The division bench of the high court comprising Justice B.P. Das and B.P. Ray directed the state government to re-consider its recommendation.

They delivered the verdict in response to a petition filed by Geomin Minerals and Marketing Pvt Ltd, one of the several companies that had applied for a share in the Khandadhar mines’ resources.

Geomin had challenged the government decision, claiming that it had made the first application for a mining lease in the area way back in August 1991 which was not considered.

The court had also directed the state government to dispose all pending applications of the petitioner within four months.

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