As many as 82 mines bearing minerals, such as bauxite, limestone and iron ore, are set to come under the hammer by November...
As many as 82 mines bearing minerals, such as bauxite, limestone and iron ore, are set to come under the hammer by November, heralding a new era in the way mining leases are allocated, steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Tuesday. He said all mineral-bearing states were expediting the process of auction that would start in November.
“States have chosen 166 mines where auction can start. However, in the first phase, 82 mines would be auctioned. I believe the process will start in November,” he said.
The MMDR (Amendment) Act, notified in March this year, makes it mandatory to allocate lease through a transparent auction route only. Mines were allocated earlier through the dispensation route.
As mining is a state subject, the onus of auctioning of the mines lies with the states only. The role of the Centre is that of a facilitator. However, Tomar said Centre would help states facing problem in carrying out the auction process.
The preparedness of the states for the mineral auction would be discussed in the next meeting of the coordination-cum-empowered committee of the mines ministry headed by its secretary Balvinder Kumar on September 24.
On the vexed transfer of old mining leases issue, which has been prohibited in the new Act, the minister evaded any direct answer, saying, “I think, when a new Act comes into place, many such issues crop up. This type of conference helps to show the way. The recommendations that would come from Assocham, my department would seriously consider them.”
The Act, which prohibits the transfer of mineral concessions obtained under the old regime, has raised eyebrows among the investors’ community who keep wondering whether the provision would apply prospectively or retrospectively.
Earlier, Kumar had conceded that there should have been a provision for transfer of such leases, but the mines ministry would explore other areas to resolve the issue.