India's highest court on Friday overturned a district court decision that had blocked South Korea's Posco steel company from mining iron ore in the Odisha province.

Odisha authorities had filed a petition with the Supreme Court, saying the lower court's order that denied Posco permission to mine should be set aside so the company could build a mine in the ore-rich Sundergarh district.

Posco has said that it plans to build a $12 billion plant in eastern Odisha state that will have a capacity to produce 12 million tons of steel a year. If the project is completed, it would be one of the biggest foreign direct investments in India.

Posco proposed the plant in 2005, but it was prevented from buying land, blocked from getting a mining permit and under pressure from farmers who staged protests amid fear of losing their livelihood.

The proposed steel mill still awaits environmental clearance, with a decision likely in June, Reuters reports. Once environmental clearance is obtained, any future litigation is unlikely to delay the start of the mill's construction.