In one of the biggest such initiatives ever attempted, India has embarked on a project to cover 21 lakh line kilometres through an aero magnetic survey aimed at assessing the potential of mining resources in the country.

With barely one per cent of the potential available mining area of 8 lakh sq km in the country being currently exploited, the Union Mining Ministry is looking at stepping this up by offering more mines through auctions in league with States.

‘Vital for economy’

Union Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, “The government is keen to see the contribution from the mining industry going up as it has potential to significantly boost the country's GDP. The Centre will back States in this initiative and call upon them to come up with potential areas for auction.”

Speaking at the Mining Today 2018 conference being hosted here, the Union Minister said the Narendra Modi government has initiated a move to auction mining rights and this has been extremely successful as it removed all discretionary powers.

This has resulted in generating revenues of over ₹1,35,000 crore and of this, ₹1,04,000 crore has been set apart for States.

Significantly, ₹13,600 crore collected from the mining industry has been earmarked for taking up relief, welfare measures and rehabilitation in the mining areas of the country. The money from this will be transferred directly to districts where mines are located, he said.

Mining potential

Explaining the importance of the mining industry in the country’s development and economy, the Minister said that of the total 32 lakh sq km total area in the country, as per estimates, about 8 lakh sq km has potential for mining. Of this, barely 1 per cent is currently utilised.

“Imagine what this could do to the country's economy, if the mining goes up to say 10 per cent of the potential area,” he said. Tomar said mining is one of the biggest employment generators in the country after agriculture and construction sectors and its growth will have a major bearing on the economy and the potential to create jobs.

The Minister said that at least three mines are getting ready in Telangana with potential to auction them. “We are keen to encourage States in their efforts to offer mineral resources,” he said.

Chhattisgarh example

Citing the example of Chhattisgarh, he said mining was a major contributor to the State's economy there. However, there is another State (without naming it), he said which has highest resources in iron ore, coal and other minerals, but yet to tap its potential.

“We need to work collaboratively to ensure success of the mining sector in a responsible manner without causing damage to environment,” he said.