India’s Ministry of Mines is seeking an international mineral exploration organization with expertise to conduct an aerial survey of 800,000 km2 of land labeled as having “obvious geological potential” by the government. The survey exercise is part of the Ministry of Mine’s action plan to boost the contribution of India’s domestic mining industry to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 3.3% by 2019, up from 2.3% at present. According to government official, the appointment of the exploration organization, and subsequent start of the aerial survey, was expected to commence by January 2017.
As part of the “holistic” action plan, the ministry had also identified 60 offshore blocks for mining; rules for award of mining concessions to domestic and international exploration agencies would be framed and announced by the government within the next two to three months, the official said.
He cited the statement of the newly appointed minister of mines, Piyush Goyal, who said, “ We will work toward a growth rate of 30%–35% per annum of volume of minerals mined in the country which would enable increasing mining sectors share in GDP by 1% over the next two to three years.”
India’s total mineral production during 2015–2016 grew by 9% to 495 million tons—although in terms of value mineral production was down 11%, reflecting the current slump in global commodity prices.
With the target to increase mineral production in mind, the ministry has issued notice inviting tenders for the auction of 33 blocks comprising gold, diamond, iron ore, and limestone assets for allocation to domestic and international miners.
As for de-bottlenecking to get mines into production, it was pointed out that about 70 to 80 concessions had been awarded, but had not become operational due to the lack of mandatory environmental clearances. The mines ministry said it has set up a specific task force to interact with the Ministry of Forest and Environment to expedite securing of such approvals for these mines.
It was expected that several Indian provinces would put at least another 80 mineral blocks up for auction before the end of the current fiscal period, the official added.