The ministry of mines has drawn up plans to spend around Rs 400 crore over the next three years to carry out exploration work throughout the potential non-coal and non-fuel resource-bearing areas in the country.
Exploration has remained largely untapped in the country with only 10% of the 8 lakh square km area explored so far. Mining takes place on just 1% of the explored area.
A global tender has already been floated inviting expressions of interest from the interested parties to carry out geophysical exploration. Mines secretary Balvinder Kumar told FE that a pre-bid meeting with the potential parties was held recently and added that exploration work is likely to be started from the beginning of next year.
Considering that the exploration job can be best done between October and April period of the year, Kumar said a total area of 2.05 lakh sqkm has been targeted to be explored in the current fiscal with an estimated expenditure of R90 crore. In the first year, exploration work will be carried out, by the short-listed companies, in parts of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Gujarat.
In 2017-18, parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh would be explored with an estimated expenditure of R150 crore.
In the third year, the remaining parts of Jharkhand, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh and the entire potentially mine-bearing areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala would be explored with an estimated spends of R160 crore.
Sources said new tenders would be invited around October in the next two years as well. The entire expenditure would be financed from the National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) fund.