Leases of 71 non-coal blocks have been lined up by ten states to be auctioned in this fiscal. Of these states, Gujarat is likely to put six limestone mines under the hammer within a fortnight followed by Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
The governments of these states have together furnished their respective list of mines to be auctioned during a meeting convened by Union mines secretary Balvinder Kumar on September 24.
Gujarat has set a target of auctioning up six leases of limestone mines by October 31. Barring Tamil Nadu and Telangana, most states seem to be prepared to auction leases. While Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha have accorded priority to auctioning iron ore leases, states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have lined up limestone mines for inviting bids. For iron ore, Karnataka alone has identified leases of 15 blocks, while Maharashtra and Odisha have also lined up at least three such mines each for the same.
Firms like KPMG, Crisil, SBI Caps and metallurgical consultant Mecon have emerged as preferred transaction advisers for these 10 states in the impending auctions, while state-run MSTC Limited would be the auction platform for them, their representatives told Kumar. However, proceedings of the meet as recorded in the minutes indicate that the states still need certain degree of hand holding in terms of survey and de-lineation of the mines, preparation of geological reports and expediting transaction advisory.
The mines secretary sought to allay the apprehensions of the representatives saying PSUs like Geological Survey of India (GSI), Indian Bureau of Mines, MSTC, Mecon, SBI Caps and Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL) have been assigned to handhold the state governments” for various essential activities for auction, according to minutes.
A senior ministry official told The Indian Express that to help the states identify additional mineral blocks which can be auctioned in the near future, both GSI and MECL have furnished 245 and 58 geological reports to various state governments. “But the states need to urgently reconcile these reports with their leasehold areas and revenue or forest maps and pave the way for their auctions on urgent basis,” he pointed out.
The mines ministry has recently circulated an advisory for the grant of concessions in case of minor minerals also through the auction route.
The representatives were told to keep the same in mind while framing the rules for minor mineral concessions. Gujarat is learnt to have appointed SBI Caps for drafting concession rules for such minerals for inviting bids.
The ministry has tried to sweeten the bid criteria by proposing that preferred bidders would not be required to pay upfront payment or royalties at the prospecting licence stage.
* Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha have accorded priority to auctioning iron ore leases
* Barring Tamil Nadu and Telangana, most states seem to be prepared to auction leases.
* Maharashtra and Odisha have accorded priority to auctioning iron ore leases,
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