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Non-coal auctions likely by November

MECL has prepared nearly 58 geological reports of detailed exploration, which will be offered to state governments to help them expedite the auction.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
Updated: August 8, 2015 2:30:08 am

The Union mines ministry on Friday said the auction for the first tranche of non-coal leases is likely to start by November.

Union minister of mines Narendra Singh Tomar said after several rounds of consultations with the ministry officials, the states are now finalising the modalities for the bids. He informed that state-run Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL) has prepared nearly 58 geological reports of detailed exploration, which will be offered to state governments to help them expedite auction process.

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“The government has spent close to Rs 350 crore as promotional grant for detailed exploration of 155 blocks of various minerals, and established about 5,600 million tonnes of mineral resources so far”, Tomar said while addressing a roundtable on mining.

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Mines secretary Balvinder Kumar said that all identified leases are likely to be auctioned within one-and-half years. The ministry had in January identified 199 leases to be auctioned. The Parliament passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 in March, paving the way for auction of these mines.

Tomar informed that unlike coal blocks, which were auctioned by the Centre, non-coal mines auctions are executed by states. Mining is a state subject and the Centre’s role will be limited to framing rules for the auction process.

He also announced the formation of a committee under the ministry’s additional secretary R Sridharan to prepare a national mineral exploration policy. Through the exploration policy, the ministry would try to rope in private players for further mining of important minerals like iron ore and bauxite. “I have asked secretary, mines to constitute a committee under the ministry’s additional secretary R Sridharan to prepare a road map for this policy,” Tomar said. A senior mines ministry official told this correspondent that the panel would be asked to submit its report within six weeks.

Tomar mentioned inadequate exploration as the biggest hurdle in the development of mining sector. He said that the nation could carry out only 10 per cent regional exploration, whereas other countries with similar geological endowment, such as Australia, have completed 100 per cent.

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