Mines ministry proposes to allow pvt sector in mineral exploration

Debabrata Das New Delhi | Updated on January 19, 2018 Published on February 17, 2016


Narendra Tomar, Minister for Steel and Mines

Private entities to be selected through competitive bidding

The Ministry of Mines has finalised the draft National Mineral Exploration Policy which proposes to allow private companies to carry out exploration of mineral bearing areas in return for a share of the royalty given to state governments.

The draft policy proposes to select the private explorer through a competitive bidding process conducted through an electronic auction.

“The NMEP proposes that private entities would be engaged to carry out regional and detailed exploration work with the right to a certain share in revenue from mining operation after the e-auction of the mineral block discovered by the private explorer,” an official statement said on Wednesday.

The share of revenue will be paid by way of royalty which would be accruing to the state governments, the statement added.

However, the decision on whether the revenue share would be paid in form of a lumpsum or annuity through the lease period of the mine has been kept open-ended.

The Geological Survey of India has identified 100 blocks covering 12,000 sq km which can be given to private explorers. Details of the blocks were handed over to the Steel and Mines Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar, on Wednesday at the Central Geological Programming Board meeting.

The blocks have prospects of various minerals, including gold, iron, tin/tungsten and other strategic minerals, the statement said adding that the Ministry of Mines will take “further action” with regard to handing them over to private explorers.

Mining lease auction

The Mines Ministry’s move to auction mining leases took time to start but the process finally kicked off in December with tenders for over 43 blocks being issued.

States have begun conducting auctions of mineral leases. Jharkhand had auctioned two limestone mines last week and Chhattisgarh will auction two more limestone mines on February 18-19. Steel majors Tata Steel, Essar Steel, JSW Steel, Jindal Steel & Power and others are in the fray for an iron ore block in Odisha which is to be auctioned next month.

Meanwhile, the Minister also launched the Geological Survey of India’s ‘Uncover’ project. “The project will be implemented in two selected areas of the country and is focused on probing for deep seated or concealed mineral deposits,” the statement said.

“Characterising India’s geological cover, investigating lithospheric architecture, resolving 4D geodynamic and metallogenic evolution as well as detecting and characterising the distal footprints of ore deposits will be the main components of this (‘Uncover’) initiative,” the statement added.

Published on February 17, 2016
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