India used to hand over mining licences to firms without any competitive bidding, leading to complaints of illegal mining and inviting judicial curbs. This choked the industry that contributes nearly 2 per cent to Asia's third-largest economy.
Steelmakers such as Tata Steel and Jindal Steel and Power have their own iron ore mines, whereas JSW Steel buys the raw material and would benefit from the order, called an ordinance.
There was, however, no immediate confirmation of the ordinance. Government officials typically brief the media after cabinet meetings.
An ordinance is an emergency measure that has to be passed by the next parliamentary session.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has resorted to using it four times in his seven months in the office due to a lack of majority in Rajya Sabha. Opposition parties have said the ordinances have undermined India's parliamentary democracy.
Earlier on Monday, Odisha said that it would auction all minerals expect coal, a blow to ten iron ore mines that were waiting for a renewal of their leases. The mines, including one of Tata Steel, produced 18 million tonnes last fiscal year, Odisha's mines director, Deepak Kumar Mohanty, said.
Copyright: Thomson Reuters 2015