Cabinet approves National Mineral Exploration Policy

Published By : Admin | June 29, 2016 | 18:27 IST
Cabinet approves National Mineral Exploration Policy
National Mineral Exploration Policy to pave way for auction of 100 prospective mineral blocks, boosting India’s mining potential
NMEP aims at accelerating the exploration activity in the country through enhanced participation of the private sector
NMEP emphasizes making available baseline geoscientific data of world standards in the public domain

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the National Mineral Exploration Policy (NMEP).

The NMEP primarily aims at accelerating the exploration activity in the country through enhanced participation of the private sector. There is a need for comprehensive mineral exploration of the country to uncover its full mineral potential so as to put the nation's mineral resources (non-fuel and non-coal) to best use and thereby maximize sectoral contribution to the Indian economy.

The policy emphasizes on making available baseline geoscientific data of world standards in the public domain, quality research in a public-private partnership, special initiatives for search of deep-seated and concealed deposits, quick aerogeophysical surveys of the country, and creation of a dedicated geoscience database etc.

NMEP has the following main features for facilitating exploration in the country:- 

i. The Ministry of Mines will carry out auctioning of identified exploration blocks for exploration by private sector on revenue sharing basis in case their exploration leads to auctionable resources. The revenue will be borne by the successful bidder of those auctionable blocks.

ii. If the explorer agencies do not discover any auctionable resources, their exploration expenditure will be reimbursed on normative cost basis.

iii. Creation of baseline geoscientific data as a public good for open dissemination free of charge.

iv. Government will carry out a National Aerogeophysical Program for acquiring state-of-the-art baseline data for targeting concealed mineral deposits.

v. A National Geoscientific Data Repository is proposed to be set up to collate all baseline and mineral exploration information generated by various central & state government agencies and also mineral concession holders and to maintain these on geospatial database.

vi. Government proposes to establish a not-for-profit autonomous institution that will be known as the National Centre for Mineral Targeting (NCMT) in collaboration with scientific and research bodies, universities and industry for scientific and technological research to address the mineral exploration challenges in the country.

vii. Provisions for inviting private investment in exploration through attractive revenue sharing models.

viii. On the lines of UNCOVER project of Australia, the government intends to launch a special initiative to probe deep-seated/ concealed minerals deposits in the country in collaboration with National Geophysical Research Institute and the proposed NCMT and Geoscience Australia.

In order to implement the recommendations of the NMEP, initially an amount of about Rs.2116 crore over 5 years would be required over and above the annual plan budget of the Geological Survey of India under the Ministry of Mines. The NMEP will benefit the entire mineral sector across the country.

The major impact of NMEP are:-

1) The pre-competitive baseline geoscientific data will be created as a public good and will be fully available for open dissemination free of charge. This is expected to benefit public and private exploration agencies.

2) The collaboration with scientific and research bodies, universities and industry for the scientific and technological development necessary for exploration in public- private partnership.

3) Government will launch a special initiative to probe deep-seated/concealed mineral deposits in the country. Characterizing India's geological cover, investigating India's lithospheric architecture, resolving 4D geodynamic and metallogenic evolution, and detecting and characterizing the distal footprints of ore deposits, would be the main components of this initiative.

4) A National Aerogeophysical Mapping program will be launched to map the entire country with low altitude and close space flight to delineate the deep-seated and concealed mineral deposits.

5) Government will engage private agencies for carrying out exploration in identified blocks / areas with the right to certain share in the revenue accruing to the State government through auction.

6) Public expenditure on regional and detailed exploration will be prioritized and subject to periodical review based on assessment of criticality and strategic interests.

Background:

The Ministry of Mines has, in the recent past, taken a series of measures for the growth of the mineral sector, including allowing 100% FDI. However, these initiatives have fetched only limited success. Further, over the years the dynamics of the mineral sector have undergone sea change thereby creating new demands and imperatives. There is a compelling need to provide an impetus to exploration activity in the country. This has prompted the Government to carry out a comprehensive review of its exploration policy and strategy. The amendments brought in to the MMDR Act in 2015 is a step in this direction. The most important feature of this amendment is that mining leases (ML) and prospecting license-cum-mining lease (PL-cum-ML) will be granted only through an auction process. This is expected to bring in transparency, expeditiousness and simplification in procedures in grant of mineral concessions. Against this background, the NMEP has been framed so as to provide a new set of objectives, sense of purpose and direction to exploration within the amended legal framework.

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Amidst the ongoing election campaigning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a public meeting in Gaya, Bihar. Seeing the massive crowd, PM Modi said, “This immense public support, your enthusiasm, clearly indicates - June 4, 400 Paar! Gaya and Aurangabad have announced today – Phir Ek Baar, Modi Sarkar!”

"Just two days ago, the BJP released its Sankalp Patra. This is the first time that the Sankalp Patra of any party is being called a guarantee card. Because over the past 10 years, everyone has seen Modi's guarantee, which means a guarantee of fulfilment,” added PM Modi.

Talking about how the Congress and RJP exploited the poor, PM Modi asserted, “For decades, the Congress, which ruled the country, squandered opportunities, wasting the nation's time. We have lifted 25 crore people out of poverty. For decades, Congress and its allies showed dreams of bread and shelter to the poor. The NDA government has provided pucca houses to 4 crore poor. Jitan Ram Manjhi is a witness to how the Congress and the RJD exploited the names of Dalits, oppressed, and backward classes for their own political selfishness. The NDA has given rights and dignified lives to Dalits, oppressed, and backward classes.”

Focussing on development projects, PM Modi stated, "In our agenda, there is both development and heritage. You also know how long the North Koel project was pending. It's the NDA government that has put it back on track. The completion of this project will be a significant boon for the farmers of Gaya and Aurangabad, providing irrigation facilities. Under our government, Gaya Ji has also been included in the list of 12 ancient historical heritage sites under the PRASAD scheme." He further said, “This pace of development is just a trailer. I have much more to do for the country.”

Slamming the Opposition for doing politics over Ram Temple, PM Modi iterated, "Tomorrow is Ram Navami, a festival where the rays of the sun will specially bless the forehead of Ram Lalla in Ayodhya. However, the people of the INDI Alliance are also troubled by the Ram temple. Those who once questioned the existence of Lord Ram are now speaking all kinds of language against the Ram Mandir! To appease a community, these people have even boycotted the consecration ceremony. A leader of this alliance, Congress's Shehzada, has openly declared that he will destroy the Shakti of Hinduism. Their other companions call our ancient tradition Dengue Malaria. Can you tell me, are these people worthy of winning even a single seat?”

Accusing the RJD of casting the state in a negative light, PM Modi remarked, “RJD has ruled Bihar for several years but they don't have the guts to discuss the work done by their government. RJD has only given two things to Bihar - Jungle Raj and Corruption. It was during their era when kidnapping and ransom became an industry in Bihar. Our sisters and daughters couldn't step out of their homes. Areas like our Gaya were engulfed in the flames of Naxal violence. RJD forced many families to leave Bihar out of compulsion.”

He went on to say, “I say, eradicate corruption, and they say, save the corrupt. They think that the people of Bihar, the youth of Bihar, will fall for their words. In the era of smartphones, the smart youth of Bihar will never align with the goons of Jungle Raj. If RJD were in power, even your mobile phone battery wouldn't get charged. Those who want to charge mobile phones with their lanterns do not want the country to progress.”

Lashing out at the opposition, PM Modi said, “Those who insult Sanatan should listen carefully: even in the Constituent Assembly that drafted India's Constitution, 80-90% of the members were Sanatanis, and these Sanatanis collaborated with Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to create such an outstanding Constitution. For the opposition, the constitution will be a political tool, but for us, the constitution is the cornerstone of our faith.”