Pandemic takes a toll on non-coal mining leases; six in 2020-21 against 43 in 2019-20

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During the current fiscal, 2020-21, very few non-coal mining leases were allotted. Compared with 43 blocks successfully auctioned in 2019-20, only six leases could be auctioned out so far in the current fiscal, data from the ministry of mines showed.

Since the time mining allocation was made mandatory through the auction route in 2015, a total of 103 iron ore, bauxite, limestone and gold mines among others have been allocated till now.

In the very first year in 2015-16, a total of six mines were allocated, 15 such leases were allocated in 2016-17. The number came down to 14 in 2017-18, but then went up to 19 in 2018-19. The highest was in 2019-20 at 43.

Of the total 103 leases allocated, 37 are iron ore, 30 limestone, six iron ore and  manganese, seven bauxite, five leases each for graphite and manganese, six gold, three chromite, two leases each for copper and diamond.

Thanks to the severe lockdown, the first quarter of the current fiscal was a complete wash-out due to the pandemic. Later, state governments were reluctant on apprehensions of bids not getting good response since a large chunk of the earlier auctioned mines could not be made operational due to various issues.

The estimated value of the resources in the 103 leases auctioned so far is a little over Rs 8 lakh crore. States are likely to garner Rs 8.27 lakh crore revenue from these mines over the 50-year lease period.

Of the 103 mines, 31 are in Odisha, 18 in Karnataka, 13 each in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, 8 in Rajasthan, seven in Jharkhand, five each in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and three in Gujarat. Over 500 non-coal mineral blocks, partially or minimally explored under current leases, but are entangled in legacy issues and litigation, will be put up for grabs as the cabinet has recently approved a proposal to amend the relevant law for their re-allocation via competitive bidding. It has also given its stamp of approval for doing away with the end-use restrictions for miners.

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