Union mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said that in the impending auction of 10 major non-coal minerals, the state-run companies can bid for mines and also avail allocation under the government dispensation route.
Talking to reporters on Thursday, Union mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar said steel public sector units (PSUs) like SAIL and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) can bid for iron ore mines or approach the respective states seeking allocation of ore blocks as areas would be earmarked for them for the same. Enabling the state-run companies to both bid and also seek allocation of mines is a departure from the coal ministry’s recent auction of mines, wherein the private companies were asked to bid for coal blocks, while PSUs were allotted mines. A total of 29 mines have been auctioned, while 38 blocks have been allotted to public sector companies.
The ground for the auctions was cleared with the Parliament vetting the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill 2015, last month. The fresh Act has paved the way for the auctioning of 199 mining leases which have been identified by the government. The guidelines for auction soon be finalised by the mines ministry and comments of the state governments would be invited on them. Once comments are received, necessary changes may be incorporated in the guidelines following which the process to auction prospecting and mining leases would begin, he said.
Tomar said the government has done away with its powers in having a say in allocation of natural resources and the state governments have been empowered to process auctioned leases. Nearly 60,000 applications for prospecting and mining leases are pending at various levels in Central and state governments and the Centre is keen to process them to rope in more investment in mining sector. The provision to allow transfer of mining leases to be granted through auction would result in flow of greater investment to the sector, the minister reasoned. In reply to a query, Tomar said his ministry has begun talks with the finance ministry on increasing the tariff barriers to prevent imports of cheaper Chinese steel into the country. “The steel industry and the government, both are worried over dumping from China. We have discussed increasing the import duty with the finance minister and hope to get favourable results,” Tomar said.
On the issue of governing the district mineral foundations (DMFs) in all the mining districts in the country, Tomar said no decision has been taken to allow the Parliamentarians or members of state legislative assemblies to have a say on utilisation of DMF funds. DMFs would be set up to fund the welfare programmes for people living in the mining zones.
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* The guidelines for auction soon be finalised by the mines ministry and comments of the state governments would be invited on them
* Then, necessary changes may be incorporated in the guidelines following which the process to auction prospecting and mining leases would begin
* The provision to allow transfer of mining leases to be granted through auction would result in flow of greater investment to the sector