Cen­tre asks states to form panel to speed up min­ing lease dis­posal

THE CEN­TRE HAS ASKED 12 MIN­ERAL-RICH STATES TO SET UP STATE-LEVEL COM­MIT­TEES ON AN UR­GENT BA­SIS TO FA­CIL­I­TATE DIS­POSAL OF MORE THAN 100 CASES WHERE SOME PER­MITS WERE GRANTED BE­FORE THE MMDR ACT TOOK EF­FECT

Resource Digest - - CONTENTS -

The de­vel­op­ment fol­lows de­lays in such dis­posal of cases where prospect­ing li­cences or re­con­nais­sance per­mits were is­sued be­fore com­mence­ment of Mines and Min­eral (De­vel­op­ment and Reg­u­la­tion) Amend­ment Act, 2015, which came into force from Jan­uary 12, 2015.

"A com­mit­tee should be con­sti­tuted for each state... to thor­oughly scru­ti­nise saved pro­pos­als be­fore send­ing them to the Min­istry of Mines... All gov­ern­ments are re­quested to con­sti­tute a com­mit­tee at the state level," the Min­istry of Mines has said in a let­ter to sec­re­taries in charge of min­ing and ge­ol­ogy.

While the MMDR Act pro­vided that all ap­pli­ca­tions for grant of min­eral con­ces­sions be­came "in­el­i­gi­ble" on Jan­uary 12, the day the Act kicked in, it ex­empted cases where a re­con­nais­sance per­mit or prospect­ing li­cence has been granted for any land for min­ing.

It pro­vided that the li­censee or per­mit holder will have right for get­ting a min­ing lease, as the case may be. A re­con­nais­sance per­mit al­lows pre­lim­i­nary prospect­ing of min­eral through re­gional, aerial, geo­phys­i­cal, geo­chem­i­cal sur­veys and ge­o­log­i­cal map­ping.

"The Min­istry of Mines has been em­pha­sis­ing on the need for ex­pe­di­tious pro­cess­ing and dis­posal of min­eral con­ces­sion pro­pos­als sent by state gov­ern­ments for seek­ing pre­vi­ous ap­proval of the cen­tral govern­ment un­der the pro­viso of amended sec­tion 10 A (2) of the MMDR Act," the let­ter sent to the states said.

The let­ter added that in a num­ber of pend­ing cases, in­for­ma­tion or doc­u­ments sub­mit­ted along with the pro­pos­als were in­suf­fi­cient, which made the task of pro­cess­ing dif­fi­cult for the min­istry.

Given the cir­cum­stances, the min­istry felt that seek­ing nec­es­sary clar­i­fi­ca­tions and doc­u­ments from states and then tech­ni­cal com­ments from bod­ies like GSI and IBM will be time­con­sum­ing. To avoid de­lays in dis­posal of cases, it has been de­cided that state-level com­mit­tees will thor­oughly vet such cases be­fore for­ward­ing the same to the Cen­tre.

The com­mit­tees will com­prise mem­bers from state min­ing and ge­ol­ogy de­part­ments, be­sides the In­dian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and the Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey of In­dia (GSI). Ra­jasthan, Mad­hya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Ma­ha­rash­tra ac­count for 112 such pend­ing cases.

The high­est tally of 44 comes from Ma­ha­rash­tra, fol­lowed by Ra­jasthan (38), Mad­hya Pradesh (22) and Andhra Pradesh (8). Ear­lier in a meet­ing, chaired by Mines Sec­re­tary Balvin­der Ku­mar, a Ra­jasthan govern­ment of­fi­cial said that out of 38 pend­ing cases, 24 deal in siliceous earth.

Mean­while, the Mines Min­istry will take up the is­sue of thresh­old limit value (TLV) on beach sand min­er­als or heavy min­er­als, which the min­ing in­dus­try says can ad­versely im­pact the com­pa­nies if im­ple­mented.

"Mines Min­istry will take up the is­sue of TLV on beach sand min­er­als (BSM) with the in­dus­try over the de­mand that it has made on the pro­vi­sions of the draft Atomic Min­eral Con­ces­sion Rules 2016 at the na­tional mines and min­er­als con­clave in Raipur to­mor­row," a se­nior govern­ment of­fi­cial said.

The draft rules pro­poses to re­serve all BSM de­posits con­tain­ing more than 0.75 per cent mon­azite in the THM (To­tal Heavy Min­er­als) for govern­ment-owned cor­po­ra­tions. Even for al­ready op­er­at­ing mines, if it is found that the mon­azite con­tent is above the fixed TLV, the lease will be ter­mi­nated.

An of­fi­cial with a pri­vate miner said: "This pro­vi­sion will re­serve al­most more than 75 per cent of the ex­plored re­serves to govern­ment sec­tor, which will have a huge ad­verse im­pact on the BSM in­dus­try and the BSM min­ing sit­u­a­tion will go back by twenty years, re­vert­ing the pro­duc­tion to re­serve ra­tio to 0.001 per cent preva­lent in the 1990s."

The in­dus­try is de­mand­ing that the TLV may be fixed as 5 per cent in THM or 2 per cent in the de­posit and the ter­mi­na­tion clause be to­tally re­moved. If re­quired, suit­able safe­guards may be im­ple­mented by De­part­ment of Atomic En­ergy (DAE), like hav­ing a con­ser­va­tion pol­icy for mon­azite.

Beach sand min­ing gen­er­ally in­cludes il­menite, ru­tile, zir­con, gar­net, mon­azite, leu­cox­ene and sil­li­man­ite. Most of these min­er­als oc­cur to­gether but their in­di­vid­ual con­tents vary­ing from de­posit to de­posit, with the ma­jor min­eral in most de­posits be­ing il­menite.

The govern­ment has ear­lier said that five states -- Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Ma­ha­rash­tra, Ker­ala and Tamil Nadu -- have heavy min­er­als worth Rs 65,000 crore which are avail­able on the coast­line and can be ex­tracted pro­vided the in­dus­try com­plies with the norms, in­clud­ing those re­lat­ing to the Coastal Reg­u­la­tory Zones (CRZ).

BSM in­dus­try is also de­mand­ing a sep­a­rate pol­icy for mon­azite pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing to utilise the rare earths avail­able in mon­azite, so that In­dia can be a ma­jor player in the field of rare earths, the com­pany of­fi­cial said.

Mon­azite, a min­eral of Tho­rium and Rare Earth El­e­ment (REE), is the only com­mer­cial source of Rare Earths in the coun­try at present. Pri­vate sec­tor is not al­lowed to mine mon­azite. Presently, Atomic Min­er­als Direc­torate for Ex­plo­ration and Re­search (AMDER), part of the DAE, car­ries out ex­plo­ration, es­tab­lish­ment and de­vel­op­ment of atomic min­er­als in the coun­try, in­clud­ing Mon­azite.

In­dian Rare Earths, a PSU con­trolled by DAE, pro­cesses Mon­azite at its Rare Earths Divi­sion in Ker­ala. IREL has been pro­cess­ing Mon­azite to pro­duce Rare Earths com­pounds, but in 2004 this was stopped due to lack of mar­ket, as ma­te­ri­als be­came avail­able at a much lower cost.

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