New Delhi: The government has put on hold the auction of 11 mineral blocks, including two gold mines, besides keeping in abeyance sale of four blocks.
The blocks on hold for auction are in Madhya Pradesh, while the mines kept in abeyance are in Jharkhand, according to a document of the mines ministry. However, the mines ministry did not specify the reasons for putting the sale of blocks on hold and in abeyance. Among the blocks put on hold for auction, two are gold mines, five limestone, three basemetal and one bauxite block, the document said.
Of the mines kept in abeyance, two are bauxite blocks and one each of limestone and dolomite. The notice inviting tenders of all 15 blocks was issued in January 2020. One mineral block was auctioned last month, while four more mines were put on sale this month. All the five blocks in Gujarat and Karnataka have reserves of 667.2 million tonnes.
The Centre had recently asked states having mineral resources to identify at least five new mining projects for auction with pre-embedded clearance on a pilot basis, with a view to expediting the sale process as well as operationalisation of the blocks. The mines ministry had recently released guidelines for the auction of mineral blocks with pre-embedded clearances as it explored ways to address the key issue of delay in mining production due to lack of various approvals such as forest and environment permissions.
The identified blocks would be auctioned along with other blocks without pre-embedded clearances. Under the guidelines, the Centre has asked states to set up a project monitoring unit (PMU) to complete the preparatory work for obtaining requisite clearances, approvals and related work. The unit would obtain all the clearances for starting a mining project.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had earlier announced various structural reforms in the mining sector as part of the over Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package to boost growth and job creation. She had announced auction of 500 blocks and introduction of a seamless composite exploration-cum-mining-cum-production regime. So far, 97 mining leases have been allocated through auctions since 2015.