The Supreme Court today directed the Karnataka Government to allow the export of iron ore that has piled up in major ports of the state following the imposition of a ban on overseas shipments to check illegal mining.

A Bench comprising Mr Justices R.V. Raveendran and Mr A.K. Patnaik also directed the State Government to notify a proposed new law to check illegal mining in the state by March 31.

The Bench further said if the State Government does not bring the proposed Karnataka Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage of Minerals Act, 2011, into force by the end of March, mining firms would be entitled to get interim relief.

The Supreme Court direction came over a plea filed by mining firms challenging two orders of the State Government banning the transportation of iron ore within the state and exports from ports.

The firms that challenged the Government order were Sesa Goa, MSPL and S B Minerals Enterprises.

Last month, the Supreme Court had asked the Karnataka Government to either notify the new law against illegal mining within two weeks or lift its order banning transportation of iron ore meant for export.

Earlier, the Karnataka Government had banned the transportation of iron ore for export purposes for six months pending a legislation to curb illegal mining.

The apex court had also said the ban was temporary in nature, imposed only for six months originally, and had asked the Government not to extend it beyond January.