Friday 8 March 2019

National Mineral Exploration Policy 2019 to give fillip to Metals and Mining industry in India.

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 Government of India allowed 100% FDI in the mining sector for the growth of Metals and Mining industry.

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the National Mineral Exploration Policy (NMEP). National Mineral Policy 2019 replaces the extant National Mineral Policy 2008 which was announced in the year 2008. 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 the search of deep-seated and concealed deposits, quick aero geophysical surveys of the country, and creation of a dedicated geoscience database etc.

The National Mineral Exploration Policy has the following main features for facilitating exploration in the country:- 

  • The Ministry of Mines will carry out auctioning of identified exploration blocks for exploration by the 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. 
  • If the explorer agencies do not discover any auctionable resources, their exploration expenditure will be reimbursed on a normative cost basis. 
  • Creation of baseline geoscientific data as a public good for open dissemination free of charge. 
  • The government will carry out a National Aerogeophysical Program for acquiring state-of-the-art baseline data for targeting concealed mineral deposits. 
  • 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 the geospatial database.
  • 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. 
  • Provisions for inviting private investment in exploration through attractive revenue sharing models. 
  • 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 a public-private partnership. 

3) The 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) The 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.

Among the changes introduced in the National Mineral Policy, 2019 include the focus on #MakeInIndia initiative and Gender sensitivity in terms of the vision.  In so far as the regulation in Minerals is concerned, E-Governance, IT enabled systems, awareness and Information campaigns have been incorporated.  Regarding the role of state in mineral development online public portal with provision for generating triggers at higher level in the event of delay of clearances has been put in place.  NMP 2019 aims to attract private investment through incentives while the efforts would be made to maintain a database of mineral resources and tenements under mining tenement systems.   

The new policy focusses on use coastal waterways and inland shipping for evacuation and transportation of minerals and encourages dedicated mineral corridors to facilitate the transportation of minerals.  The utilization of the district mineral fund for equitable development of project affected persons and areas. NMP 2019 proposes a long term export import policy for the mineral sector to provide stability and as an incentive for investing in large scale commercial mining activity.

The 2019 Policy also introduces the concept of Inter-Generational Equity that deals with the well-being not only of the present generation but also of the generations to come and also proposes to constitute an inter-ministerial body to institutionalize the mechanism for ensuring sustainable development in mining.

Source - IBEF and PIB.

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