In a bid to reduce imports of critical minerals, the Centre is planning to handover more mineral blocks to State governments for auctions.

According to Pralhad Joshi, Union Minister of Coal and Mines and Parliamentary Affairs, around 87 mineral exploration reports were handed over, which contain 50 G2 and G3 reports and 37 G4 geological memorandums.

The notification of rules to implement the exploration license (EL) regime was unveiled, along with finalisation of 20 mineral blocks. Thirteen offshore mineral block reports were also handed over for auction. Another 16 heavy mineral blocks were handed over to the Department of Atomic Energy and five blocks of construction sand to the Administering Authority.

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The minister further said that government will continue to focus on critical mineral exploration.

“The recent reforms have led to ease of doing business in the mining sector. To support the shift to green energy, the ministry placed 20 critical mineral blocks for auction last month. It will not only support the energy transition, but also create opportunities for State governments to earn more revenue,” Joshi said on Tuesday during the second State Mining Ministers’ conference organised in Bhopal.

India has stepped up its efforts to secure critical mineral supplies, including signing agreements with overseas governments. Lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel and rare earth elements (REEs) are some of the critical minerals which are on India’s radar.

Reducing coal imports

Joshi said India’s coal production will cross 1 billion tonnes soon, eliminating India’s dependence on imports of “substitutable coal” from next year.

Coal gassificiation projects will also be looked into, the minister added.

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Pointing out that the world order is changing, Joshi said, “India will be at the forefront in the 21st century.”