Allocation through the competitive bidding route is set to kickstart within a fortnight in the country, with mineral-rich Karnataka inviting tenders for 15 iron ore mines on October 21.
Along with Karnataka, eight other mine-bearing states — Odisha, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh — are ready with a total of 70 mines to be allocated through the auction route in the first phase, steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar told FE.
Fierce competition is in store for the mines since these would be allocated for 50 years. Miners would bid keeping in mind the potential demand growth for raw material, he said.
“The majority of the 70 mines to be allocated in the first phase are iron ore and limestone mines,” mines secretary Balvinder Kumar said, adding that efforts are being made to reduce the number of days for allocation of mines to the winning bidder from the date of issuance of NIT (notice inviting tender) to 68 days from 120 days conceived earlier.
Mines other than those containing coal have never been allocated through the auction process in India till date. A questionable and controversy-laden dispensation route used to be followed for the allocation of mines, which often lacked transparency. The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Ordinance, 2015 promulgated on January 12, 2015 mandated auction as the only route for allocation. The Act, notified on March 27, perpetuated it.
Kumar said apart from 15 mines in Karnataka, auctions would be conducted for 11 mines in Rajasthan, 10 in Odisha, nine in Maharashtra, six in Gujarat, five each in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, and four in Andhra Pradesh.
Since mining is a state subject, the onus of auctioning of the mines lies only with the states. The role of the Centre is that of a facilitator. The Centre has done a commendable hand-holding job to help states facing problem in carrying out the auction process. Officers from the Centre are still deputed in the state.