Rome, October 26 - The environment ministry on Friday announced that it had completed procedures for issuing a new environmental authorisation for the contested ILVA steelworks in the southern city of Taranto, paving the way for much-needed upgrades at the plant. The new document - 'updating' an earlier authorisation issued in 2011 - is the result of inspections by a team of experts mandated to address serious environmental and health concerns resulting from activities at the facility. It maps out necessary interventions at the plant's blast furnaces, coke ovens and other hot areas, stockpiles and areas dedicated to the movement of materials. Provisions for areas devoted to other activities will be issued in due course. The document also sets out the time-frame for the upgrades to be made, with a programme of urgent measures to be taken within three months and subsequent interventions to be completed by the end of 2014. ILVA has said it is ready to comply with the provisions provided it has full access to the areas of the plant that have been temporarily shut down. In July a Taranto preliminary investigations judge ordered the partial closure of the factory pending environmental upgrades. Since then ILVA has been locked in a legal battle to keep the steelworks in operation while the changes are carried out. The company argues that it needs to continue operating in order to be able to finance the upgrades and also to protect jobs and the national economy.