Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Tuesday all the formalities for auction of mines bearing minerals like iron ore and bauxite have been completed and the auction process will start in November.
The mineral bearing states have identified 166 blocks for the auction, of which 82 will go under the hammer, he added.
“Auction formalities have been done. States are ready to participate and I am confident that the auction process will start in November. States have identified 166 blocks of which in the first phase 82 blocks will go under the hammer,” Tomar said on the sidelines of an Assocham event on mining.
The Minister added that the Centre is ready to provide assistance to the states in the auction process.
This was made possible after the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015, was passed in March this year, which stipulates auction as the only means to allow extraction of iron ore and other minerals, he added.
Tomar said MECON, MECL and MSTC can aid states in the auction process. While MECON will be the transaction advisor and will conduct location survey, Mineral Exploration Corporation can prepare survey reports for the mines and MSTC can build the auction platform.
Earlier in the day, Mines Secretary Balvinder Kumar assured the industry that Centre will look into the issue of captive mines not being a part of a merger or acquisition deal under the MMDR Act.
“There should have been a provision for transfer of mines which have been allotted earlier but the law department has given very clear opinion that we cannot transfer any mining lease whether it is existing or even for those which would be allotted through auction,” he added.
Though it is a setback for the industry but government will explore areas to resolve this issue, Kumar said.
On mineral waste dumping in Goa, the Secretary said: “We are making efforts to resolve the dumping related issue in Goa and have requested the state government to try and include the area where dumps are located. We are exploring 2-3 options about how to address this problem.”
The sand beach mining industry also urged the government to consider reducing the export duty.
Trimex Group CEO Pradeep Koneru lauded the government’s steps in enhancing the ease of doing business.
The government must also consider giving impetus to the sand beach mining industry by addressing some of this industry’s concerns, he added.
“Imposition of export duty tax on Ilmenite by previous government has severely affected us. We have also requested that we be allowed to process monozite and give back the uranium to the government,” Koneru said.
VV Mineral Technical consultant C Swamydas said auction will hamper the growth of the heavy mineral mining industry and result in inflated prices as inexperienced and financially incapable parties may quote high in the auction and abandon the project being unviable.