Millennium Post

16 of 47 mine auctions deferred due to insufficient applicants

States have offered 47 blocks bearing minerals such as iron ore, bauxite and gold for auction, of which 16 saw deferment due to insufficient applications, Parliament was informed on Monday.

Till date, nine mineral-producing states have offered 47 mineral blocks for the e-auction, as per the details presented by Minister of State for Mines Vishnu Deo Sai in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
Auction was deferred for 16 mines due to "insufficient number of applications found at the time of opening of initial bids". Of this, 5 are in Gujarat, 4 in Maharashtra, 3 in Rajasthan, 2 in Chhattisgarh and 1 each in Odisha and Jharkhand, the data showed.

The states successfully auctioned 6 mines — 3 in Chhattisgarh, 2 in Jharkhand and 1 in Odisha, it added. This is expected to earn revenue of Rs 18,146 crore, including royalties. The government has called a meeting of state governments this month to work out ways to make the next phase of mineral mine auction a success after the initial round failed to get a strong response from the industry.

The high-level meeting, to be chaired by Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, is scheduled to be held in Goa by the month end and will also discuss issues like setting up of District Mineral Foundation (DMF), the status of National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) and steps to check illegal mining. 

Meanwhile, the Centre has called a meeting of state governments this month to deliberate on making the next phase of mineral mines' auction a success after the initial round failed to get a strong response from the industry.

The high-level meeting, to be chaired by Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, is scheduled to be held in Goa by month-end and will also discuss issues like setting up of District Mineral Foundation (DMF), status of National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) and steps to check illegal mining. As per the letter issued by the Union Mines Ministry, a meeting with Ministers in-charge of Mining Department of all state governments has been called by Tomar on key issues pertaining to the mining sector on May 27, 2016 at Goa. According to the directive, the meeting will discuss the preparedness for e-auction of major mineral blocks. 

"Mineral blocks need to be prepared for putting them up on mineral auctions by every state government. Identification of major mineral blocks and their auction preparedness will be discussed in the meeting," the directive said. According to a senior government official the meeting will take up the issue of tepid response to the mines auctions by the industry as the government wants to work on improving the ease of doing business in the sector.

Besides, the government wants to ensure that next phase of mines auction receive an enthusiastic response from firms and wants to ensure that all issues are ironed out before this, the official added.
Last month on the sidelines of the first Maritime India Summit in Mumbai, Tomar had said that states will offer 100 additional mines bearing minerals such as iron ore, bauxite and limestone for auction by 2016-end. Seven months after auction process was initiated for 43 mines across 12-mineral bearing states, only six blocks have managed to find buyers -- prompting the Centre to direct states to put in "greater efforts".

States had identified 43 mines bearing minerals such as iron ore, bauxite, gold and limestone for auction in the first phase. Only six mines have been auctioned, which will earn a revenue, including royalties, of Rs 18,146 crore.

At a high-level meeting of representatives from Centre and the states earlier last month, Mines Secretary Balvinder Kumar expressed his "dissatisfaction" on the slow pace with only six blocks 
having been auctioned by three states.

At Coordination-cum-Empowered Committee (CCEC) meeting, Kumar directed the states to put in "greater effort" on their part to ensure the success of the auctions. The representatives from various states are believed to have said that land ownership, distance of the mine from production site and eco-sensitive zones in the vicinity of the mine were some of the issues that discouraged potential bidders from participating in the auctions. Mines Ministry has also set up an Inter Ministerial Group to expedite post-auction clearances and approvals to ensure that mines become operational at the earliest. 
PTI

PTI

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