Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hundred day agenda of Ministry of Mines

The Ministry of Mines is responsible for policy in relation to mineral wealth of the country (excepting coal and petroleum minerals and atomic minerals), and for the regulation of mines and minerals to the extent provided by legislation of Parliament. The guiding legislation in this respect is the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. The Ministry has under its administrative control the Geological Survey of India (GSI), a 158 year old institution headquartered at Kolkata and the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) headquarters at Nagpur. The Ministry of Mines is also the administrative Ministry for three Public Sector Undertakings, viz. National Aluminium Corporation Limited (NALCO), Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) and Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL).

  The Agenda for the Ministry is currently driven primarily by the National Mineral Policy 2008 (for non-fuel and non-coal minerals), which lays down the following as the main strategy:-

· The core functions of the State in mining will be facilitation and regulation of exploration and mining activities of investors and entrepreneurs, and collection of revenue.

· GSI will be the principal agency for geological mapping and regional mineral resource assessment and it will ensure that projects and programmes are formulated in line with national policy goals, taking into account the exploration undertaken by the private sector. 

· The exploration strategy will be focused on minerals in which the country has a poor resource-cum-reserve base despite having geological potential.

· In view of the role of the private sector as the main source of investment, the regulatory environment will be improved and the IBM and States Directorates of Mining will be strengthened with manpower, equipment and skill sets necessary for the purpose.

· Suitable legal measures will be taken to make the regulatory environment conducive to private investment so as to attract large investments and high technology. Procedures for grant of mineral concessions will be transparent and seamless on the one hand and will guarantee security of tenure and easy transferability of rights on the other. 

· All mining shall be undertaken within a Sustainable Development Framework which will address ecological as well as societal issues. The guiding principle will be that the miner must leave the mining area in a better shape than he found it.


· Agenda completed in first 30 days:-

· Based on recommendation of the High Powered Committee, new Vision and Charter framed for the Geological Survey of India in May, 2009.

· Guidelines issued to State Governments in June, 2009 based on the National Mineral Policy to give primacy to “ Seamlessness” and “first-in-time” for grant of mineral concessions.

· Directives issued to Geological Survey of India in June, 2009 to put out all survey and exploration data, maps and reports on Web Portal to facilitate private sector participation in mineral exploration.

· State Government institutions made eligible for training free of cost at GSI’s Training Institute. First course to be held starting 22nd July, 2009 at Shillong on ‘Landslide hazard zonation’.

· Agenda to be completed in the 100 day period:- 

· New legislation will be prepared to give effect to the National Mineral Policy including aspects relating to:

- Transparency and simplicity in the concession regime.

- Regulatory environment.

- Sustainable development framework.

ð Draft Legislation is being finalized, discussed with State Governments and other stakeholders and brought before Parliament in the Winter Session 2009.

· Royalty system on minerals will be rationalized by adopting an advalorem principle wherever feasible, to make assessment and collection simpler and enhance royalty accruals to State Governments. 

ð The royalty rates on minerals were last revised in 2004. Since then there has been a huge expansion in mining activity particularly in relation to bulk minerals like iron ore and limestone. New royalty rates will be notified keeping the advalorem principle as the basis to the extent possible.

 · Implementation of the overall agenda and framework of the National Mineral Policy 2008, including:-

 - Strengthening of GSI and IBM

- Creating a Sustainable Development Framework

- Reassessment of threshold values for industrial minerals including iron to improve the resource-cum-reserve base.

- Creation of database to build a Mineral Resource Inventory and a Mining Tenement Registry. 

- Manpower development, particularly in relation to national requirement for geologists, geophysicists, geochemists, mining engineers etc. 

 A Committee has been set up to monitor progress implementation of the non-legislative items emanating from the Policy which can be grounded through executive action. Accordingly:-

ð Report of High Powered Committee on GSI which gave its Report on 31.03.2009 has been taken up for implementation of 74 important recommendations.

 ð A High Powered Committee will be set up within 30 days to similarly give recommendations in respect of IBM by 31.12.2009.

 ð Acquisition by GSI of high end equipment for survey, including a deep sea research vessel, geotechnical vessel and a heliborne sensor system has been fast tracked and field trials for the heliborne system will be started by October, 2009. Procurement action for new sophisticated equipment for laboratory studies including for SHRIMP for geochronological studies will be taken up on priority.

 ð Process for engaging a Consultant with expertise and credibility within 60 days has been initiated to develop a Sustainable Development Framework for the Mining Sector which meets the guiding principles of the National Mineral Policy and broadly addresses ecological and societal needs.

 ð A Report has already been prepared by IBM on re-determination of threshold values for industrial Minerals and implementation strategy will be worked out in consultation with States within the next 60 days.

 ð A Pilot Project will be initiated within 60 days for creation of a Mining Tenement Registry.

 ð In order to develop a perspective plan for development of human resources for the Geoscientific sector, in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), a Study is being undertaken by an Independent Consultant, who is to submit a report within six months.

 ð The first meeting of the Central Geological Programming Board revamped in accordance with the requirements of the National Mineral Polilcy will be held in September 2009 to finalise exploration programmes and projects in consultation with all stakeholders in line with national goals and taking into account private sector activities.

· Other important initiatives taken for reform of the Mines & Minerals Sector:-

ð Capacity building of State Directorates of Mining and Geology will be started in collaboration with GSI who will provide free training on survey, exploration, geotechnical investigations and fundamental geoscience.

 ð Rationalisation of methodology for assessment of mineral resources:- The United Nations Framework Classification (UNFC) will be uniformly applied by IBM and GSI for all their work and GSI’s Field Season mineral investigations from October 2009 will be UNFC compliant.

ð Creation of a Techno-economic Think-tank:- A small technoeconomic think-tank to provide policy inputs for decision making on mineral policy will be created in the Ministry within 60 days.

 ð Recognising merit and rewarding excellence:- The ‘National Mineral Award’ will be replaced by a new ‘National Geoscience Award ’ from 2009 to recognize the diverse fields and disciplines of geoscientific achievements.

 ð Increasing Transparency:- The mineral concession system must not only be simple and investor friendly, it must be transparent and quick. System transparency will be increased and Internet/Intranet applications is being enhanced for:-

- mineral concession processing approvals.

- mining plan clearances.

- progressive and final mine closures.

processing and disposal of revision applications against grant or refusal of concessions.

· Special attention to North-East:-

Investors Meet & Conference for development of mineral resources and mineral based industry in the North-Eastern Region being organized in Guwahati on 9th – 10th October, 2009 jointly with Department of Development for North East Region (DONER), GSI, Governments of North-Eastern States, Federation of Indian Minerals Industries(FIMI), Federation of Industries of North-East Region (FINER) etc. to encourage investment in exploration and minerals exploitation in North Eastern States. 

· NALCO is already one of the lowest cost producers of Alumina in the world and was conferred Navratna Status in 2008. In the next 100 days NALCO will

ð Formulate a Corporate Plan for the future keeping in view the new Vision Statement of the Company.

ð Endeavour to obtain mining lease for Pottangi (Orissa) and Gudem and KR Konda (Andhra Pradesh).

ð Complete second phase expansion of smelter and captive power plant and start- up.

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