The government plans to put on sale next month six mineral blocks in the states of Odisha and Rajasthan. Of these six blocks to be auctioned, three are bauxite mines and three are limestone blocks.
The three bauxite blocks — Ballada, Kutrumali and Sijimali — and two limestone mines — Garramura and Uskalabgu — in Odisha are virgin blocks, according to a latest report by the mines ministry.
The remaining mine is Nimana-Duniya limestone block in Kota, Rajasthan. The notice inviting tender for all the six blocks was floated in the month of November.
Since the amendment to MMDR Act, 1957 in 2015, a total of 216 mineral blocks have been auctioned till November 30 across 10 states.
Three mineral blocks — two limestone and one iron ore — in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh were successfully auctioned last month.
The government started the process of allocating mineral blocks through auctions in 2015-16.
The ministry has expressed hope of auctioning 500 mines by the end of 2024. The Centre is aiming to increase the mining sector’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 5 per cent from 2.5% at present.
During last few years, the government has introduced important reforms to open up the mineral sector to ensure its contribution in achieving the national policy goals.
Major reforms include enactment of the Mines and Mineral (Development & Regulations) (Amendment) Act, 2015, which made the process of allocation of mineral concessions completely transparent by introducing public auctions with active participation of state governments.
In the federal set-up, States are owners of mineral wealth in their respective territories. For realising the benefits of mineral wealth, states have primary and significant role to come up with auctionable mineral blocks that can start production.
The mines ministry had earlier said that amendment in mineral auction rules will encourage competition that will ensure more participation in sale of blocks.
The mines ministry had earlier notified the Minerals (Evidence of Mineral Contents) Second Amendment Rules, 2021, and the Mineral (Auction) Fourth Amendment Rules, 2021 to amend the Minerals (Evidence of Mineral Contents) Rules, 2015 and the Mineral (Auction) Rules, 2015 (Auction Rules).
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