New Delhi: The government has chalked out a plan to put as many as 280 mines with a mineral wealth of over Rs10 lakh crore to auction in the next fiscal, a senior official said.

“The 280 mines planned for auction next fiscal have the mineral wealth of over Rs10 lakh crore. Besides, there are 83 mines under litigation," mines secretary Balvinder Kumar told reporters in New Delhi.

He said that the auction of the 83 mines under litigation depends upon the outcome of the legal process. Kumar also told that soon the drone technology will be used for preparing topography maps and inspection of mines. “Drone technology will be used for monitoring of mining in any area. IBM will start this. Drones will help to prepare topography maps in few hours, which takes many days manually," Kumar said.

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Elaborating further he said, “Drone will also save the time consumed in a manual inspection. We can also verify the claims of industry. For instance, they are saying that they have mined 10 lakh tonnes of mineral. We would be able to know about the exact quantity in one hour using a drone. This will be used for new as well as old mines."

Kumar also talked about a web portal for giving single window clearance for a prospective licence to an application for exploration of mineral blocks. As many as 21 mining leases have already been auctioned so far with a cumulative resource value of around Rs94,000 crore.

The mines ministry has already facilitated the auction process extending support from IBM and Geological Survey of India (GSI), and various PSUs such as MSTC, MECON, MECL and SBICAP. Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha are among the states preparing for an auction of mineral blocks like iron ore, bauxite and limestone in the next financial year. The blocks to be available for auction are under the New Exploration Policy.