Express press service
THOOTHUKUDI: The Union Ministry of Mines has proposed to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 (MMDR Act) to reform the sector and empower the Center to auction mining concessions. The power to issue licenses for the exploitation of beach minerals now rests exclusively with the states. The ministry invited the public to comment and suggest the proposed changes by June 15.
Miners say that if the proposals take effect, private actors could once again mine beach sand minerals after they were banned in 2019 thanks to an amendment to the MMDR law. The main proposed amendments include removing eight minerals from the list of atomic minerals in Part B of the first schedule and grouping them into the newly created section of Part D (Critical and Strategic Minerals). The first schedule of the MMDR law now consists of only three parts: part A (hydrocarbons/energy minerals), part B (atomic minerals) and part C (metallic and non-metallic minerals).
The eight minerals proposed to be removed from Part B and placed in Part D are beryl and other beryllium-containing minerals, lithium-containing minerals, rare earth group minerals containing uranium and thorium, minerals containing niobium, minerals and ores containing titanium (ilmenite, rutile and leucoxene), minerals containing tantallium, minerals and ores containing zirconium, including zircon, and sand minerals range, including garnet, monazite and sillimanite. Other minerals to include in Part D are molybdenum, rhenium, tungsten, cadmium, indium, gallium, graphite, vanadium, tellurium, selenium, nickel, cobalt, tin , platinum group elements and fertilizing minerals such as potash and phosphate (without uranium) and glauconite.
Stating that these proposed Part D ores have many non-atomic applications that outweigh their atomic use, the MoM asserts that these ores are of great economic importance and present considerable supply risk due to geopolitical uncertainties. These critical technology and energy elements are key to achieving India’s net zero emissions commitment and have uses in the space industry, electronics, information and technology and communications, the power sector. energy, electric batteries and nuclear industry, the ministry said.
Under the proposal, the Centre’s powers to auction concessions for Part D minerals will be in addition to the powers of state governments. Other proposed amendments introduce a new section in MMDR relating to the average selling price (ASP) which forms the basis of the calculation of the ad valorem royalty to remove the cascading impact of the royalty on the royalty, the setting of ‘a maximum area limit for mining concessions, exemption from deforestation for exploration purposes, exemption from prior central government approval to launch the auction of a composite license, and omission of the phrase “after meeting the mine-related end-use plant requirements” of Section 8(5) and 8A(7A) of the MMDR Act to allow captive miners to sell 50% of their annual production without any restrictions.
Commenting on the notification, Dr D Dhaya, Head of Indian Federation of Placer Mineral Industries
Devadas told TNIE that this move could open doors for more private players in the sector, but the system needs transparency, accountability and accountability from all stakeholders. Collusion of private minors with law enforcement officials must be prevented, he added. The Chinese add value to these minerals and dominate the electronics and communications industry worldwide.
Industry sources said there is a strong need for proper sections to blacklist mining companies that repeatedly flout guidelines and standards. “Beach sand mining has given work to hundreds of people, but because of a few offenders, the whole industry has been affected,” they said. A former beach sand miner said the government should encourage the manufacture of value-added products from beach minerals to reduce imports. It can be noted that Indian beaches are a treasure trove of minerals, especially monazite, an atomic mineral. A case related to the violation and illegal exploitation of beach sand minerals is pending in the Madras High Court.