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82 mines to be auctioned by end October, says Tomar

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NEW DELHI: Union minister for steel and mines Narendra Singh Tomar has said that 82 mining blocks have been earmarked for auction by the end of October.

Participating in a Mining Leaders Roundtable organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) this week, Tomar said another 96 blocks have been identified for auction at a later stage, and added that the auction would be based on data provided by the Mineral Exploration Corporation to the states.

Tomar said that he had already visited the mineral-rich states to sensitize on the opportunities for auction. He also confirmed that the private sector would be brought in as an equal partner into the process once the guidelines and framework have been finalized. In his first interaction with industry after assuming charge as secretary, Mines, Balvinder Kumar complimented CII, for smoothening the process of auction of mines and facilitating revival of mining activity in the country.

Narendra Kothari, chairman of CII National committee on mining and CMD, NMDC outlined CII’s seven-point action plan for getting mining off the ground, as follows :

1. Creating a conducive framework for enabling exploring activity in the country

2. More rationale tax and levies for mining — variable DMF for encouraging exploration of marginal resources

3. Enhancement of technological interventions to increase the rate of drilling and frequency of holes per unit area

4. Adoption of sustainable practices

5. Security of tenure

6. Enable availability of large areas for reconnaissance

7. Formation of a joint task force with representation from the industry to work with government for creation of National Exploration Policy

R Sridharan, additional secretary, ministry of mines, while sharing the background to the recent amendments, stated that the MMDR Act was drafted to strengthen the weak regulatory regime, minimize the environmental impact, and curb rampant illegal mining. Global best practices have been incorporated, he added. He stressed that the construct of the Act was designed to introduce simplicity, eliminate discrepancy and achieve credibility.

S Vijay Iyer, managing director, Rio Tinto India, in his presentation, shared a global perspective on how to get mining off ground. He highlighted the enabling conditions for attracting investments in the sector and the learnings that can be derived by adopting global best practices in the Indian context. He highlighted that to maintain economics of projects, an effective tax system needs to be in place.

Tuhin Mukherjee, managing director, Essel Mining & Industries Limited, presented the industry perspective from a standalone miner’s experience in the country and the challenges faced. He also emphasized on implementation of the Act by fast tracking the approval process, capacity building in states and suggested ways by which exploration can be encouraged in the country.

Laxman Shekhawat, chief operating officer, Hindustan Zinc Limited, shared his views from the non-ferrous sector and shared the company’s significant experience on exploration which led to developing a world-class resource at Rampur Agucha.

Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, CII suggested that the way to faster execution of mineral auctions would be for the Centre to template 5-6 projects, of different minerals, from the pre-bid stage to production across the mineral-rich states.

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