The Cabinet is likely to take up the National Mineral Exploration Policy (NMEP) on Wednesday, which will pave the way for auction of 100 prospective mineral blocks, boosting India’s mining potential.
“Cabinet is likely to take up NMEP tomorrow. After the policy is approved, the government can auction 100 blocks that have been identified by Geological Survey of India (GSI) for exploration,” a senior official said. To encourage mineral exploration in the country, the Mines Ministry has already notified the National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET).
“Through NMEP, the government wants to attract private sector in exploration, besides involving state-run GSI, MECL and other notified agencies. States will also play a greater role by referring exploration projects, which can be taken up through NMET,” a state government official said.
One of the important features in NMEP is the attractive provisions for private investment in the exploration sector, the official added. NMEP proposes that private entities engaged to carry out regional and detailed exploration will get a certain share in revenue (by way of royalty/ premium to be accruing to state government) from mining operation from the successful bidder after e-auction of mineral block discovered by that private explorer.
The revenue-sharing could be either in the form of a lump sum or an annuity, to be paid throughout the period of mining lease, with transferable rights. Selection of private explorer is proposed to be done through a transparent process of competitive bidding through e-auction.
For this, reasonable areas/ blocks for regional exploration will be earmarked/ identified by the government for auctioning.
Of India’s entire Obvious Geological Potential (OGP) area, identified by GSI, only 10 per cent has been explored and mining is taking place in 1.5-2 per cent of this area.