The much-hyped e-auction of non-coal minerals has not yielded the desired response. While mines in the eastern states have received only lukewarm response, miners have not evinced any interest in 12 mines, mainly of limestone, that have recently gone under the hammer in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra mainly due to the subdued commodity market scenario.
Taken aback by the poor response of the miners in the e-auction of non-coal mines like bauxite, iron ore and limestone among others, the Union mines ministry has asked the states to find out the reasons why they have stayed away.
“A total of 43 mines have been put on the auction mode. In two states — Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand — they have got good response. They have got a minimum of three bids for each. But in states like Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, there have been no response. So we have asked these states to have further consultation with the prospective bidders and find out why they have not come forward,” mines secretary Balvinder Kumar told FE.
Eight states, including Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand, have so far issued notice inviting tenders (NITs) to auction 43 mines containing raw materials like iron ore, limestone, bauxite and manganese ore among others. The cement sector is also under stress with all-India cement production registering a marginal growth of 2.1% Year-on-Year during April-November 2015 period of the last year compared with the corresponding period a year later.
Chhattisgarh had invited bids for four limestone mines for specified end-use of cement and clinker and one composite bid for a gold mine. Jharkhand had invited bids for offering composite licence for two limestone blocks at Ramgarh and composite licence for a gold mine in West Singhbuhm The last date of submitting bids ended with January.
Rajasthan had put on the block three bids for allocation with a cumulative reserves of around 689 million tonnes. Maharashtra had floated tenders for granting of four mining lease each one for limestone, bauxite, iron ore and tungsten. It had reserved the limestone mine (Nandgaon-Ekodi block) for specified end use for cement sector. January 15 was the last date for submission of bids. Gujarat had invited bids for five limestone mines and reserved them for specified end use for the cement sectors. January 11 was the last date for submission of bids.
Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI), the apex body of the miners, felt that the government should not have been put the mines in the auction mode simply because this is not the practice elsewhere in the world.
“Who will bid for the mines in the current downturn in the commodity market? People will rather prefer to wait and watch the commodity market for sometime from now and then would draw up their long-term goals. Meanwhile, they would rather prefer to import the raw material as it is cheaper and abundantly available in the global market,” said FIMI’s secretary general RK Sharma.