New National Mineral Exploration Policy

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India is very richly endowed in natural mineral wealth. It ranks fourth amongst all nations when it comes to mineral production. Minerals and mining contribute heavily to India's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and also it helps manufacturing sector by providing raw material for various industries like power, steel, cement and many more.

The Ministry of Mines has undertaken various measures in last two years to make sure there is growth in the mineral sector. One of the measure has been to allow 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Mining

The various measures taken by the ministry has still not provided desired level of success and so the Government was prompted to carry out a comprehensive review of the mineral exploration policy and thereupon the Government decided to bring in some policy changes with regards to mining leases and prospecting license-cum-mining lease.

The new National Mineral Exploration Policy (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.

Aim of NMEP:

1. Accelerate the exploration activity in the country
2. Enhance participation of the private sector
3. Comprehensive mineral exploration of the country to uncover its full mineral potential
4. Put the nation's mineral resources (non-fuel and non-coal) to best use
5. Maximise sectoral contribution to the Indian economy
6. Emphasise on making available baseline geoscientific data of world standards in the public domain
7. Quality research in a public-private partnership
8. Special initiatives for search of deep-seated and concealed deposits
9. Quick aero geophysical surveys of the country, and
10. Creation of a dedicated geoscience database etc.

Main features of NMEP:

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.

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

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

Government will carry out a National Aero geophysical 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 and state government agencies and also mineral concession holders and to maintain these on 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 or 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.

Impact of NMEP are:

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.

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

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

A National Aero geophysical 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.

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

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

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