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India to put offshore mineral blocks on auction

27th January 2017

By: Ajoy K Das

Creamer Media Correspondent

     

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KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) – The Indian government is planning to extend the auctioning of mineral blocks to offshore areas and will start preparing a legislative framework to auction mineral resources within its territorial waters.

An official in the Mines Ministry said that work on redrafting legislation would start in the next two months. The ministry is targeting the auction of at least 60 offshore mineral blocks during the 2017/18 financial year.

The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDRA) 2015 had been promulgated to provide for mandatory auction of onshore mineral blocks. However, the Offshore Areas Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 2002 does not have any provisions for auctioning of mineral resources in territorial waters and, hence, would need to be amended along lines of MMDRA, the official added.

The Mines Ministry was aiming to replicate the success achieved in the auctioning of noncoal mineral blocks since the MMDRA was put into effect.

In the 21 rounds of auctions held so far, the noncoal mineral blocks had fetched mineral-bearing provinces an estimated $1.07-billion in revenue.

A preliminary assessment of the country’s mineral resources available in territorial waters by Geological Survey of India (GSI) identified zirconium, titanium, thorium, tungsten and rare-earth elements.

The opening up of offshore mineral blocks with rare earth resources will also be in line with government’s efforts to push traditional mining and metal processing companies to enter exploration and development of rare earth resources.

It has been estimated that India is sitting on rare earth resources with a business potential of about $13-billion a year. 

Government mining companies like the National Aluminium Company, Hindustan Copper and Steel Authority of India will be allowed to enter into offshore mining.

Once the legislative environment is in place, these mineral companies will also be supported by government organisations like the Indian Space Research Organisation, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the Atomic Minerals Directorate and the GSI.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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