Upbeat about the proposed changes in auction rules that are likely to take shape soon, the mines ministry said this will make the process easier and quicker and close to 60 mineral blocks will be up for grabs next year. “Next year, we will do (auction) for 50-60 (mineral blocks). Because of the new rules, which will be in place (by this month), it will be easier, bidding will be faster. We expect a fillip on that. That is why we are thinking of changing the rules,” Mines Secretary Arun Kumar told PTI. Stating that states would earn a revenue to the tune of Rs 1.4 lakh crore from the auction of these mines, the secretary said the mineral blocks likely to go under the hammer will be from the mineral-rich states like Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka. About the proposed changes in the auction rules, he said the government is looking at relaxing financial eligibility parameters, which will ensure a larger participation of bidders. “Today, you have to have a minimum of three bidders for three rounds of auction. Only thereafter, there would be a relaxation. We are looking at reducing the number of rounds of auctions before a relaxation can be thought of,” the secretary stressed. The mines ministry, he said, is of the view that the upfront payment should be adjusted by states at the earliest so that load on miners is reduced.
The ministry, which has already auctioned 12 mineral blocks so far in the ongoing fiscal, expects that more than a dozen mines will be put on the block in the remainder of 2017 -18. “This year, we have already auctioned out successfully 12 mines. With the amendment to the auction rules coming in by November-end or within November, we expect that certainly more than 12 will be auctioned because the states are waiting for the amendment to be notified,” Kumar said.