New Delhi: The 12 mineral producing states will put 82 mining blocks containing minerals such as iron ore, bauxite, limestone under the hammer by October-November this year, mines secretary Balwinder Kumar said. “With amendment of the MMDR Act, now there are 3-4 things that we have to do. First, as per the new amended act, states are required to go for auctioning of the mines. Now we are pursuing with the states to move ahead with the auctions. In the Phase I, the 12 major states have identified 82 blocks and they are confident that by October-end or November they will start the auction and this process will take 2-3 months," Kumar said.

In March this year, the government passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Amendment Act, 2015, which paves the way for states to auction iron ore and non-coal mineral mines. The mines ministry has advised states that they can consider engaging SBI Capital, a wholly-owned subsidiary of public sector lender State Bank of India, as a transaction adviser. It also suggested to consider engaging state-run metal scrap trading firm MSTC Ltd, which provides the platform for coal auctions.

“Apart from these 82 blocks, states have also identified 96 blocks, which will be taken up in Phase II. This phase will start once Phase I gets over. In many cases, these 96 blocks need to have G1 and G2 level of exploration reports and most of them are in G3 and G4 level. They are in touch with Mineral Exploration Corporation of India for explorations. This process will take from nine months to a year," he added. So as on date, 178 blocks have been identified and states will go for auction either in Phase I or Phase II.

Whatever assistance is required, the centre has provided them, Kumar said. Last month, steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the centre is working with states to start by year-end the auction process for about 200 mines containing minerals such as iron ore, bauxite and limestone. The Union mines ministry has identified 199 such mines that can be allocated through the auction route. They are located in mineral-rich states like Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Odisha.

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