As many as 222 mineral blocks are in the pipeline for auction in 2017-18. While all these blocks could be potentially auctioned, the actual number of blocks to go under the hammer would depend on their status of exploration and the readiness of the respective state governments.
In the list are blocks being explored by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and Mineral Exploration Corporation of India Ltd (MECL). Between them, nine mineral bearing states – Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Telengana are readying 75 mineral blocks for the auction process. Karnataka tops the list with 57 mineral blocks on offer for auctions followed by Madhya Pradesh with 46 and Jharkhand at 39.
This apart, there are 100 lapsed mineral applications under Section 10 (A) (2) (c) of the amended Mines and Minerals- Development & Regulation Act (MMDR), 2015. These leases refer to the cases where mining leases could not be executed within the stipulated deadline of January 11 this year due to lack of forestry and environment clearances and also because of non-settlement of forest rights. In addition, there are 83 more lapsed applications where the leaseholders have gone to courts and such blocks may also be made available for auctions.
The ministry also enquired about the action plan of various state governments for exploration of areas under mining leases the lease period of which will expire in March 2020. The emphasis is on the importance of accelerating the pace of exploration, especially in mines producing iron ore in Odisha, where iron ore production may reduce significantly resulting in a mineral crisis after expiry of such leases in 2020.
The state governments were advised to encourage the lessees of these mines to take up detailed exploration in the areas under the leases and to develop phased final mine closure strategies and plans so that any plant and equipment in these lease areas may be decommissioned properly and the blocks on expiry of the lease period may immediately be put up for auction. It was suggested that meetings be held with each individual state government to develop action plans for such mines at the earliest.
According to the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), there are 240 such leases of which barely 50 are operational, where the leases are due to expire in March 2020. The resources in such leases have already been identified. IBM has also evaluated and submitted a report to the Ministry of Mines on the resources that will be exploited till March 2020 and the area that will remain to be explored to G2 and G1 and for exploitation later. Read More…