"We are looking at a proposal to raise import duty by an additional 2.5 per cent and have asked primary aluminium producers to make a case to us," said Mines Secretary Balvinder Kumar. The ministry will hold a meeting with them this week to deliberate on the issue, he added.
Primary producers such as state-run Nalco, Vedanta Aluminium and Hindalco have been pursuing the case for slapping safeguard duty on aluminium, which has not found much favour with the Commerce Ministry.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his Budget speech in February, had announced that Basic Customs Duty (BCD) is being increased for primary aluminium from 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent and that on aluminium products from 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent.
In February, the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises had recommended the government to raise import duty on aluminium and raised "serious concerns" on "adverse impact" of cheaper imports on the profitability of state-owned Nalco.
It said that out of total aluminium consumption in India, 55 per cent is met from aluminium scrap and 45 per cent through aluminium, on which the import duties are 2.5 per cent and 5 per cent respectively, resulting in cheap imports from countries like China.
Earlier, Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said that the new National Mineral Exploration Policy (NMEP) would explore the new mining areas across the country and raise contribution of the sector in the country's GDP.
"There are a lot of employment opportunities at the minerals' rich districts of the country. The minerals play a major role in rapid economic growth and GDP. The new (mines exploration) policy will help in mapping of the mining areas across the country," the Steel and Mines Minister said.
"The exploration has been done by GSI (Geological Survey of India) only in 10 per cent of the mapped mining potential area so far which is about eight lakh square km. The new policy would explore minerals in 8,00,000 square km area. The mining sector's contribution to GDP is also likely to reach to six per cent," the union minister said.
He said the new policy would ensure use of space technology to check illegal mining. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi had formulated 'Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana' (PMKKKY) keeping in mind the welfare of residents in the mining areas. Immense employment opportunities will be generated by the development of the minerals' rich regions," Tomar added.
The Atomic Mineral Policy was also unveiled on the occasion, besides the launch of the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) as part of PMKKKY.