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Govt announces big reforms in mining sector; to auction 500 blocks

New Delhi, May 16 (PTI) The Centre on Saturday said it will rationalise stamp duty in mining sector, eliminate the difference between captive and non-captive mines, introduce seamless composite exploration-cum-mining-cum-production regime and auction 500 mining blocks.

Announcing the fourth tranche of the economic stimulus package, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, 'We would also like to eliminate the difference between captive and non-captive mines.' The move, the government said will allow transfer of mining leases and sale of surplus unused minerals, leading to better efficiency in mining and production.

The Ministry of Mines, the finance minister said, is in the process of developing mineral index for different minerals and added that the Centre has also decided to rationalise stamp duty payable at the time of award of mining leases.

'Then the rationalisation of stamp duty which is payable at the time of award of mining leases is also happening,' she said.

Welcoming the announcement, Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi in a tweet said that 'under PM @NarendraModi ji, the nation is transforming. FM @NSitharaman ji announced today structural reforms in Coal & Mining sectors to make India an #AatmaNirbharEconomy. These reforms will bring in investment & global best practices will generate huge employment opportunities.' Miners' body FIMI welcomed that the government's decision to grant composite exploration-cum-mining-cum-production licence (CEMPL).

'FIMI has long been requesting the government to allow seamlessness in the mining sector starting from reconnaissance to mining stages, in line with international best practices...However, the finer details of the newly announced regime has to be seen,' Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) said.

'We also welcome the Government’s decision to rationalize the stamp duty in mining sector, which will provide much needed relief to the highly taxed Indian mining sector.' The removal of the distinction between captive and non-captive mines will lead to independent development of the mining sector in India, it said.

Vedanta Ltd welcomed the announcements made by the Finance Minister for structural reforms in coal and mineral resources.

'India is blessed with abundant reserves of coal, bauxite and other mineral resources, and these reforms will bolster India’s production of these critical resources. This shall ensure raw material security for the industry and give great impetus to India’s efforts towards self-reliance for an AtmaNirbhar Bharat,' Ajay Kapur, CEO, aluminium and power business Vedanta said.

Elimination of distinction between captive mines and non-captive will ensure a level-playing field for players in the integrated metals space, Saurabh Bhatnagar, Partner and National Leader, Metals & Mining, EY India said.

'All firms will now compete through measures of efficiency and deploying best practices for running a mining business. These were much need reforms in the mining sector as India is a mineral rich country and any sectoral reforms to attract investments which adds to India’s GDP through this sector and save precious foreign exchange are welcome,' he added.

Debasish Mishra, Partner, Leader – Energy, Resources and Industrial Products, Deloitte India said single licensing policy, removal of captive non-captive distinction, revenue sharing model and stamp duty rationalisation have been the demand of the industry for a long time.

'Similarly aluminium industry has been asking for bauxite and coal combined license, which has been cleared now,' he said.

The Centre also announced that introduction of joint auction of bauxite and coal mineral blocks.

The move will enhance aluminium industry's competitiveness and help the sector reduce the electricity cost.

Removal of distinction between a captive and non-captive mines would mean that transfer of non-captive mines will be permitted subject to compliance with prescribed conditions, Arvind Sharma, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas.

This is a huge relaxation and will lead to increased merger and acquisition in the mining sector, he said, adding that this will create new opportunities.

Niladri Bhattacharjee, Partner - Metals & Mining, KPMG India said that in terms of novelty, one thing stands out i.e, joint auction of coal and bauxite blocks. PTI SID MR