The government will soon come out with redrafted rules with regard to exploration and mining in offshore mineral blocks and allot 60 blocks under auction route in first phase, a move that will bring transparency and efficiency in the process, a top official said.
Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002 will be redrafted in two to three months time, Mines Secretary Balvinder Kumar said in an interview.
"We are redrafting Offshore Area Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002... We are doing consultations with the stakeholders (on this)... It will be redrafted in two-three months," Kumar said.
Once the Act is redrafted, the allotment of offshore mineral blocks would be done through auction route.
"In the present Act there is no provision for auction of offshore mineral blocks... Earlier the offshore mineral blocks were given through allotment route. We used to invite applications and used to allot blocks. It was not transparent," the official said.
SBI Cap is our consultant on this, he added.
"We want to put under the hammer big offshore blocks in the same manner as we successfully auctioned 21 mining blocks (containing minerals like limestone and iron ore in seven states). Sixty offshore mineral blocks have been identified. In the first phase we plan to auction 60 blocks," he explained. These offshore blocks contain minerals such as zirconium, titanium, thorium, tungsten and rare earth elements.
The Geological Survey of India (GSI) carries out surveys in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Territorial Waters (TW) of India to assess the offshore mineral resources.
TW is the belt of coastal water that extends up to 12 nautical miles (around 22 km) from the coast of a country.
EEZ is a sea zone on which a country has special rights regarding exploration as well as the use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind.