India Mining Conclave 2019 kick starts

Odisha committed for timely mining auction: Mines Minister

Bhubaneswar: As the mineral industry is concerned about the lapse of many mining leases on March 31, 2020, Odisha Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick allayed their apprehensions by informing that the State Government is committed to completing mining auctions on time.

“Odisha Government has already started the auction process for mineral blocks. Auction of three iron ore blocks, one manganese block, two chromite blocks, and one graphite block has already been completed. Auction of another 31 mineral blocks is in the pipeline and notification for the same has already been issued,” said Mallick.

“This auction process will be completed in a phased manner. Out of 31 blocks in offer, 27 blocks iron ore mines, 2 graphite, and 2 manganese mines.” He also urged the mineral industry to use the latest technology in the exploration process and ensure the least damage to the environment and ecosystem of the mining area,” he added.

The Minister was addressing India Mining Conclave 2019, organized by the Indian Chamber of Commerce here on Wednesday.

Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy said, “Odisha is steel hub and mining is an important industry in the State. In a few months, there is likely a chance that mines can move from one operator to another. The government is trying to ensure that there is no disruption in mineral production.”

Tripathy emphasized on the mining companies following the Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet and Profit) for pursuing sustainable development.

Additional Chief Secretary (Steel & Mines), R K Sharma said, “Mines sector contributes 10% to the GSDP of the state. But due to some reason, it came down from the double-digit to single digit. Now it has started picking up and in future, it will contribute significantly to the state economy. Odisha is the most compliant state as compared to others in the mining area. We bounced back so early and are able to increase our production while other states are still fighting with so many issues.”

Regarding the expiry of the Mining lease of several mines on 31st March 2020, R.K. Sharma reiterated that the Odisha government has already started the process for fresh suction of mines with the sole intention of providing an uninterrupted supply of raw material to the Value Addition Industries.

Sharma also said that the state govt is always open to ideas and suggestions within the framework of law from experts and existing players in mining.

Mr Manish Kharbanda, Convenor, Steel and Mines Committee, ICC Odisha State Council in his theme address highlighted three important aspects of mines and mineral industry.

He said, “Commencement of production in Mines after 2 years of allotment is not going to help the industry. For virgin mines, it is still acceptable, but those mines, which are already in operation the production ramp-up should be different. We urge both the Centre and the State Government to make the necessary arrangements.”

Comparing to the auction rules between coal and none coal mines, Kharbanda said, “In coal block auction there are normative rules based on which a company/individual can bid for coal blocks. If expansion is proposed then 60 percent financial closure has to be shown and a big performance guarantee be provided. In the non-coal auction, these issues have not been addressed. This can lead to monopolization and hoarding of resources by a few companies. The secondary steel will suffer the most and also some primary steel producers.”

Kharbanda at India Mining Conclave 2019 also highlighted the challenges relating to taxation, beneficiation and transportation issues of minerals.

Other dignitaries present at the event are Prabodh Mohanty, Director of SNM Group, Scott Caithness, Director (Exploration) of Vedanta Group, M C Thomas, Chairman of ICC State Odisha Council and J B Pany, Co-Chairman of ICC State Odisha Council.

The Indian Chamber of Commerce is holding the two-day Indian Mining Conclave on 30th and 31st October in partnership with the Government of Odisha to trigger the perspectives of sustainable mining and to suggest the way forward to the Government and other stakeholders.