Govt to give 3 years for winners of operational mines for fresh environment clearance

Twesh Mishra New Delhi | Updated on October 24, 2019

Winners of the operational mineral blocks being bid out are expected to get up to three years for obtaining fresh environment and forest clearances.

This provision is being finalised between the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to ensure that supplies of raw material to key industries are not disrupted.

The move to relax these norms follows auctioning of mines whose leases are due to expire on March 31, 2020. According to official estimates, 48 working mining leases and another 281 non-working mining leases are expiring on this date.

According to a senior Mines Ministry official, “Till now, the notice inviting tenders (NIT) for 43 mines have been issued across Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Of these, there are 20 mines whose leases were expiring in March 2020. Another 16 mines have already been auctioned including four in Karnataka.”

“The Ministry of Mines is in talks with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to grant two to three years time for winners of auctioned mines to obtain fresh Environment and Forest Clearances. This provision will be enabled for those mines that were operational and have been recently been auctioned in light of the mining leases expiring in March 2020,” he said.

“In all, 70 mines have been auctioned since the Amendment to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957,” he added.

No lease extension

The auction of operational blocks and the move to relax norms for obtaining clearances rules out the possibility of a lease extension for mineral blocks. Mining industry bodies had sought a 10-year extension to the existing mine leases, till March 31, 2030.

According to industry estimates, these mines are currently supplying 70 million tonnes of iron ore, besides manganese and chrome ore, which constitutes about 35 per cent of the current production of these vital raw materials for the steel industry in the Eastern sector and Karnataka.

In an earlier interview with BusinessLine, CK Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said, “We have given forest clearance and environment clearance, as long as geography and region do not change, if they want to change it they will have to come back to us. If you want to remap the area then you will have to come to us separately.”

Published on October 24, 2019

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