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Indian mining sector seeks sops to explore mineral wealth

Bengaluru, Sep 12 (IANS) The Indian mining sector on Wednesday urged the government to incentivise exploration of the country's rich mineral wealth that remains untapped despite huge potential for its growth and development.

"As the country's vast and rich mineral wealth remains untapped despite huge potential for growth, the government should offer incentives to attract international firms to come and explore the mineral deposits," said Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) Secretary-General R.K. Sharma here.

Geologically being a part of Gondwana land, India has the same prospects as other resource-rich countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Indonesia and South Africa.

Gondwana was an ancient super-continent that broke up about 180 million years ago and split into land masses, including Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, the Indian sub-continent and the Arabian Peninsula.

"India remains largely under-explored for minerals like gold, diamond, copper, nickel, lead and zinc. Australia and Canada have 13-14 per cent of global exploration budget, while India's share is negligible. Exploration is pre-requisite for developing the mineral resource base," said Sharma.

Ahead of the 8th three-day Mining, Exploration Convention and Trade Show "Mining Mazma 2018" in the city from Thursday, the Federation has urged the government to amend the Mines and Minerals Development & Regulation (MMDR) Act, 1957 in line with the new National Mineral Exploration Policy, 2016.

Under the changed legal framework, non-exclusive reconnaissance permits (RP) are issued to prospective explorers without provision for sale or transfer of their permits or transition of their rights to prospective licensing-cum-mining licensing (PL-cum-ML).

"The MMDR Act needs to be amended to enable reconnaissance permit holders to have the right of transition to PL-cum-ML or sell their rights to prospective investors," reiterated Sharma.

Besides a favourable legal framework, the mining apex body asked the government on May 9 to relax the guidelines of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, which restrict prospecting of minerals with 5-10 per cent NPV (Net Present Value).

"As the guidelines are bound to impact exploration, we urge the government to withdraw them for effective exploration of minerals in the forest areas," added Sharma.

Of the 89 mineral blocks notified across the country, 45 were auctioned and 146 attempts for made for their exploration. Of the 45 blocks, though six have been ready for composite license (PL-cum-ML), not one of them were granted this over the last two years.

"Similarly, no mining lease has been granted for greenfield blocks auctioned for exploration, prospecting and mining them due to delays in clearances and consents by the Central and state governments," Sharma lamented.

The apex body, however, welcomed the deregulation of the coal sector that allows commercial mining of coal by private firms and gives an impetus to the sector's growth.

--IANS

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