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New MMDR Act To Boost Mineral Exploration, Says Steel Body

The amendments empower the central government to conduct auctions where the state governments face challenges in conducting auctions or fail in doing so.

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The amended MMDR Act will give a fillip to mineral exploration and ensure more inclusive development for mining-affected people in the country, a steel industry body said on Tuesday.

The government on March 28 published the latest amendment to the MMDR act through gazette notification after the President gave assent to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act 2021. Parliament had passed the act on March 22. The Indian Steel Association (ISA) in a statement said the amendment would pave way for multiple reforms in the mining sector.

'The latest amendment to MMDR Act issued through gazette notification dated March 28, 2021 will help unlock the huge mineral potential of the nation by solving long-pending legacy issues and bring auction-only system to new heights.

'It will also give fillip to increased exploration of minerals, ensure level-playing fields through various measures and ensure more inclusive development for mining-affected people in the country.' As per the amendment, ISA said, restrictions on the end use of minerals by captive plants have been relaxed. The body said this will augment the supply of iron ore in the domestic market as existing captive mines will be allowed to sell up to 50 per cent of the minerals excavated.

The amendment includes provisions to facilitate auction of non-producing mineral blocks by the state government.

When a government-owned company fails to obtain a mining lease in the specified time, the amended Act allows the allotted mineral blocks to be auctioned by the state government.

The amendment is expected to bring efficiency and competitiveness in both government and private companies, it said.

The Act facilitates smooth transfer of all valid rights, approvals, clearances, and licences granted to the lessee of a mine, to the next successful bidder, even after expiry or termination of the lease.

The amendments empower the central government to conduct auctions where the state governments face challenges in conducting auctions or fail in doing so.

This reform will ensure continuous mineral supply in the country, ISA said adding revenue from such blocks will accrue to the state governments only.

The amendment will also 'end the legacy issues as there are around 572 pending mineral concessions which have neither resulted in mining leases nor closure because of the saving clause under section 10A2(b) of the existing law', it said.

(PTI)