The amendment in the MMDR Act in 2015 ushered in predictability, transparency and removed all arbitrariness by introducing auction as the only process of allocation of major mineral resources, Ficci said.
Industry body Ficci has called for expediting auctions of mineral blocks with known or explored reserves, highlighting that the average of such sales has nosedived to around 15 mines per year after the amendment in the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act. The chamber in a presentation to Niti Aayog stated that “around 300-400 minerals concessions per year used to be allotted prior to 2015 which has reduced on an average to around 15 per year post-amendment in the Act (MMDR Act in 2015)”. It recommended that auctions should “be expedited for areas with known/explored mineral reserves.”
According to sources, officials from Rio Tinto, Tata Steel, Vedanta and apex mineral body Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) among others who were part of the presentation. However, for areas with no or minimal known/explored mineral reserves, it said the first-cum first-served system must be adopted with the provision of first right of refusal for granting mining lease, Ficci said.
To ensure transparency in the mineral sector, the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill was passed by Parliament in 2015. The amendment in the MMDR Act in 2015 ushered in predictability, transparency and removed all arbitrariness by introducing auction as the only process of allocation of major mineral resources, Ficci said.
While the MMDR Act, 2015 grants the winner of the mineral block with the sub-surface mineral rights, the successful bidder has to run from pillar to post to seek the surface rights and obtain necessary statutory clearances, the industry body said. “Thus, the record of converting successful auction to production is poor and very few blocks have come up to the stage of production,” it added.
Moreover, states should get all regulatory clearances, including environment clearances, forest clearances, and surface rights before putting any mineral block for auction –special-purpose vehicle (SPV) model may be adopted here, it explained. “This will substantially reduce the time between successful auction and start of actual production, while also leading to thrust on exploration,” it said.
The industry body stated that the sudden discontinuance of mining operations in Goa was creating a huge loss to the mineral sector as a whole and said that there was a need to protect the livelihood of the people dependent on the Industry. “Therefore, government’s intervention is requested for an early resumption of mining operations as the situation at the ground is a grave concern for the whole sector,” Ficci said. As per that the latest government data around 54 blocks — 24 limestones, 19 iron ore, 4 gold, 3 graphite, 2 manganese, one bauxite and one diamond — mineral blocks have been successfully allocated through auction.