India resolves key mines policy objections

India resolves key mines policy objections

By Reuters

New Delhi: India has resolved objections over revenues raised by mineral-rich states during discussions on a new mining policy, removing one hurdle to cabinet approval, a senior source at the mines ministry said.

The states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Orissa had voiced concern that the proposed policy would only give them royalties of 2-3% on mining sales.

“All the doubts have been clarified. There are no residual matters," the mines official said on 9 October of differences that had held up the passage of the new set of regulations.

But an Orissa government official said that although the provisions of the mining policy had been explained and states had been assured their concerns would be taken care of, regional governments were yet to see the document.

“The final shape of the mining policy has not been shared with us," he said. The mines official gave no details, but added that some issues were now going to be dealt with separately from the overall mining policy.

He said the coal ministry has to now propose a new method for auctioning coal blocks, which must then be vetted by the law ministry and placed before the cabinet.

The new policy seeks to shorten the time it will take for new mining leases to be granted by state and federal governments to about 6 months to a year. At the moment it is often a long and tortuous process. After the period proposed in the policy, applications will be automatically referred to a tribunal.

Under the new guidelines, foreign and domestic firms should find it easier to invest in the exploration and mining of gold, diamonds and metals like copper and zinc, and prospecting companies will automatically obtain a mining licence.