Union steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
Union steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

Government plans to formulate a national policy on mineral exploration

Committee will create an appropriate policy to encourage participation of private sector in exploration, says steel minister Narendra Singh Tomar

New Delhi: Union steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday announced the formation of a committee to frame a national mineral exploration policy. The committee will be headed by additional mines secretary R. Sridharan.

“I propose that a committee be constituted under the leadership of additional secretary (mines), comprising representatives from private and public sectors. The committee will create an appropriate policy to encourage participation of private sector in exploration. Our goal is to complete 100% regional exploration at the earliest possible, to assess the mineral wealth of the country. The contribution of mining to GDP must rise from 2% to 6%. The committee will research and prepare a national exploration policy, and will submit its suggestions in a time-bound manner," Tomar said while speaking at a seminar organised by lobby group Confederation of Indian Industry.

So far, two agencies have been responsible for mineral exploration in the country—Geological Survey of India and Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd. Now the government plans to expand this list by adding other public sector companies like National Mineral Development Corporation, Steel Authority of India Ltd and Kudremukh Iron Ore Company.

“We want private companies to participate as well but we have to come up with a way to incentivise exploration first. That can only be done after the committee submits its recommendations," Tomar said when asked about the conspicuous absence of a private company in the list.

Speaking about the much-awaited mineral field auctions, Tomar said he expects states to start the process by November. “Since the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act has been amended, I have been meeting with state secretaries to encourage them to accelerate the auction process… I can say with confidence that states have created an environment for auctions. And from October-November, the procedure is expected to start,“ he said.

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