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Gujarat Govt comes up with policy on minerals

Our Bureau

Ahmedabad , Sept. 21

THE Gujarat Government has decided to throw open exploration of minerals to the private sector and is also targeting foreign investment. With some of the global majors such Ambassador and Jeffrie having once evinced interest in prospecting for minerals such as alumina and even bauxite in the Kutch region, the Gujarat Government is now mulling the floating of international tenders in some of these areas.

The Gujarat Minister of State for Industries and Mines, Mr Anil Patel, while announcing the State's first ever policy on the exploration and exploitation of minerals here on Saturday, said Gujarat was expecting a high level of private sector participation. And it is the private sector that will be expected to spearhead the mineral production to grow at a rate of 10 per cent annually and touch 935 lakh tonne by 2008. The State Government is looking to enhance the present level of revenue from this sector at Rs 175 crore to Rs 500 crore over the next five years.

As against 3.63 lakh metres of overall drilling that has taken place in the State till date towards the exploration and exploitation of mineral, the State has targeted the drilling of another 4 lakh metres. This would mean that against 41,860 hectares of land that has hitherto come under the purview of various mining activities, the State Government is expecting another 61,024 hectares to become available for mineral exploration.

While refusing to comment whether the Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) would be privatised, Mr Patel cautioned the corporation that its monopoly over the exploration and exploitation of lignite would be a thing of the past if it failed to significantly increase its production.

The need to look at the private sector was evident as against an estimated lignite deposit of 213 crore tonne, GMDC's current level of mining was at one crore per annum, he said.

With the exploration of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) having been moved under the Union Ministry of Petroleum's domain, the State Government would now have to look at the liquefaction of lignite in a bid to overcome the logistical issues that arose from the transportation of lignite, Mr Patel said.

The mineral policy would look as much to the private sector as to foreign investors to take advantage of the new initiative and this would be possible once parameters concerning issues such as royalty was decided, he added.

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Gujarat Govt comes up with policy on minerals


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