Odisha's Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick said the government's decision was based on the recommendation of the inter-departmental committee on mines headed by the
development commissioner.

Two of the mines are in mineral-rich Keonjhar district while the third is in Sundergarh district. The state government allowed these to operate according to provisions of the new MMDR (Amendment) Act, 2015.

The three mines are among the 11, under non-captive category, that sought resumption of operations after being closed for absence of lease extension.

"The steel and mines department has asked the lease holders to sign fresh lease deeds before resuming operations," Mallick said.

The MMDR Act, 2015, has allowed extension of lease period by five years for the non-captive mines, and the three new mines will be able to operate for another five years, an official at the steel and mines department clarified.

The government's decision to allow reopening of 26 mines in the first phase and three on Saturday is significant as Odisha's iron ore production dropped about 40 percent in 2014-15.

The Supreme Court, in a judgment last year, had directed the state government to stop operation of the mines whose lease periods had expired.

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