State Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Wednesday said West Bengal was ready to utilise its coal and mineral reserves to fullest. Addressing the 13th Global Mining Summit, a four-day event inaugurated in the city, he said, “If properly harnessed, the mining sector in India can not only produce millions of jobs by 2025, but can also be a significant contributor to the nation’s GDP. Please give us the deliverables from this summit, we would work on them with CII.” The state has identified six granite prospective blocks and exploration has begun in three through competitive bidding, he added.
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The summit is being organized by CII in collaboration with the union ministry of mines and Coal India Limited. With Australia as its partner country, 290 exhibitors have put up stalls showcasing the latest mining equipment from China, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia and the UK.
“West Bengal is the third largest mineral resources-rich state in the country, 1/5th of the total mining resources of India are located in the state. It throws an opportunity for employment growth. The coal reserves of Deocha Pachmi, the second largest in the world, at 2,00,000 million tonnes alone can create enormous jobs,” said Mitra. “Bengal has tied up with Kudurmukh for iron ore deposit exploration in the state,” he added.
The finance minister said that geological surveys carried out in the state have indicated that it has untapped reserves of iron ore, dolomite, tungsten, fireclay, granite and sand. “The government has made the state’s minerals related geo-scientific data public and updated rules for mining,” he said.
Balvinder Kumar, secretary of the union ministry of mines, said that the star rating system for the operating mines was operational and the country’s first such rating report will be published in the first half of December. Moreover, following the MMDR Act amendment, the government had facilitated 17 auctions of 55 leases in 9 states, fetching Rs 70,000 crore. “Another Rs 47,000 crore is likely to be fetched from auctions in the near future,” said Kumar. “Iron-ore production in the first half of the current fiscal (April-September 2017) was up by 25.8 per cent to 84 million tonnes,” he added.
The minister secretary further said that the District Mineral Fund, already constituted in 234 mineral-producing districts of the country, have collected Rs 3,500 crore from miners for development of tribals in districts. “The ministry has facilitated initiatives of large scale exploration of minerals in the country through the Geological Survey of India and a number of public sector miners. By April 2017, an aerial survey on potential mineral blocks covering 2 lakh square kilometres of land would be over. This would be of G3 level of exploration data, which will help prospecting on the ground areas possible,” he added.
Kumar also said that the government has put in place a satellite-based remote sensing of surveillance system to keep illegal mining in check. The mining ministry has also developed a mobile app to help citizens to report irregular or unlawful mining activity. Kumar said the overall growth mineral production was 9 per cent in 2015-16. “This year, we are expecting a 15 per cent growth in iron ore output,’’ he added. An exclusive CII report titled ‘Roadmap for Indian Mining Industry’ was launched during the inaugural session as well.
Mitra also spoke of the “plight” of people due to demonetisation, but refused to comment on the entry tax issue.
with PTI INPUTS