Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill

Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill

News: Lok Sabha has approved the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation Amendment) Bill, 2023.

• The Bill amends the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 which regulates the mining sector. The bill seeks larger participation of the private sector in mineral exploration and production.

Key provision:
• The bill seeks to open up mining of deep-seated and critical minerals for the private sector. 

Deep-seated minerals include gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, nickel, cobalt, platinum group of minerals, diamonds, etc, which are difficult and expensive to explore and mine as compared to surfacial or bulk minerals.

• It also empowers the central government to exclusively auction mining lease and composite licence for certain critical minerals.
• The amendments in the bill will be a game changer. So far only 2 kinds of licences were granted — composite and mining licence. Now exploration licence will also be given through transparent auction route.
• However, the mining of beach sand minerals will be reserved for public sector undertakings. Beach sand minerals include ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene, garnet, monazite, zircon and sillimanite.
• The Bill also dispenses with cumbersome forest clearances for mine reconnaissance and prospecting operations, making it easier for private firms to participate in exploration of the country’s mineral resources.
• The bill empowers states to grant composite mineral license without having to get a central nod. This is expected to enable state governments to put up blocks for auction at a faster pace.

How will the bill impact mining industry?
• Private sector participation in mining of critical minerals such as lithium, beryllium, titanium etc will be helpful in increasing availability of these minerals which are essential for national security and economic development.
• It removes the distinction between captive and non-captive mines which could enhance the efficiency and profitability of the mining sector and reduce the dependency on imports. 

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