India is a mineral-rich country and has a favourable geological milieu that is yet to be fully explored and assessed.
India’s Mining sector, being one of the core sectors of the economy, provides basic raw materials to many important industries like power generation, iron, steel, cement, petroleum and natural gas, petrochemicals and fertilisers.
Several endeavours have been undertaken to strengthen the nation’s mining sector.
*Acts & Regulation for the Mining Sector*
The Ministry of Mines administers the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 which is the Central Act that governs the development and regulation of mines and minerals. The Act has been amended from time to time to promote and conserve the mineral resources of the country.
In 2015, the Act was amended to mandate the grant of mineral concessions through a transparent and non-discriminatory method of auction. The move has been executed to ensure the fair value of mineral resources to the States.
Some other alterations have also been made for providing a boost to mineral production, improving ease of doing business in the country and increasing mineral production. The provisions have enabled simplification of the exploration regime by including the seamless transition of the concession from exploration to production. Further, Private entities may also be notified for conducting exploration.
*National Mineral Exploration Trust for Funds*
Moreover, a National Mineral Exploration Trust, a non-profit autonomous body, looks after the funding provided to entities. The objective of the trust is to use the accrued funds for taking up regional and detailed exploration, coal and non-coal minerals, by giving priority to strategic and critical minerals.
In addition, the Central Government also comes up with diverse initiatives for the conservation and systematic development of minerals. Focus is also being laid on the protection of the environment by preventing or controlling any pollution which may be caused by prospecting or mining operations.
*Mining Plan for the development of mineral deposits*
It is worth noting that no mining lease can be granted unless a mining plan for the development of mineral deposits has been approved by the government. The Mining Plan incorporates detailed proposals for systematic and scientific mining, conservation of minerals and protection of the environment.
To monitor the conservation of minerals, the Indian Bureau of Mines carries out periodic inspections of mines. The monitoring is being performed for systematic and scientific mining and protection of the environment in the leasehold areas of minerals other than minor minerals, coal and atomic minerals.
Minerals are a valuable natural resource being the vital raw material for infrastructure, capital goods and basic industries. As a major resource for development, the extraction and management of minerals have to be integrated into the overall strategy of the country’s economic development. The government is guiding the utilization of minerals by long-term national goals and dynamic perspectives.