The Ministry of Coal is likely to offer four additional blocks for allocation to PSUs for coal sale. This will be over and above the 42 coal blocks for which notice inviting tender and application has been published.

The Coal Ministry had, in the first week of August, started the process of auctioning 27 coal mines and allotting 15 coal mines to Central and State PSUs. According to the objective of auctioning of coal blocks, the government is auctioning 21 coal mines for end use non-regulated sector and six coking coal mines for end use iron and steel. In the case of allotment, five coal mines are for power sector, nine for sale of coal and one for iron and steel, the Ministry had indicated.

The process of auction of the 27 coal mines will be held in three tranches.

“Four additional blocks will be offered for allocation to PSUs for coal sale in the 11th tranche,” Sumanta Chaudhuri, Secretary, Ministry of Coal, told newspersons on the sidelines of a stakeholders’ consultation organised by the Ministry of Coal and FICCI here on Wednesday. At Peak Rated Capacity (PRC), these 46 coal mines can produce around 100 million tonnes per annum.

MMDR Amendment

With a view to expedite the process of giving mining lease, the Coal Ministry is looking to do away with the need for taking ‘prior approval’ of the Centre before the State hands over the mining lease. This would call for an amendment to the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act (MMDR), 1957.

“The MMDR Act has to be amended to do away with prior approval. It is a fairly simple exercise and is likely to come up in the next session of Parliament,” he said.

According to Chaudhuri, under the current regime, the State government has to go for a prior approval from the Central government after receiving necessary clearances such as environment, forest etc, before it can hand over the mining lease to a company. This would delay the entire process by about 6 months to a year. Once the amendment happens, the system of clearance will become easy and expedited.

The Ministry of Coal is also looking at a system of accreditation for bringing in more players — both from public and private sectors — into coal exploration.