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Minister confident of new mines policy by March

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Amendment likely to see automatic mining lease for investors

Though the existing rights on mineral reserves enjoyed by the mineral-bearing States would not be taken away, specific guidelines would be kept in the new policy.

Kolkata , Nov. 23

The Union Minister of Mines, Dr T. Subbarami Reddy, is confident that his ministry will be able to announce the new National Mines & Minerals Policy by March 2007. Based on the Anwarul Hoda Committee's recommendations, a draft Bill was being prepared, and would be placed in Parliament for its approval. Dr Reddy said it might take two to three months to get the Bill passed by Parliament.

Talking to newspersons here on Thursday at the venue of 8th India Mining Summit (IMME-2006), the Minister said that efforts were being made to amend the existing mineral policy in such a way that prospective investors get automatic mining lease provided such investors are capable in exploration job, too. This apart, the new policy would ensure all States to get equal access to any type of minerals freely.

Unutilised reserves

Though the existing rights on mineral reserves enjoyed by the mineral-bearing States would not be taken away, specific guidelines would be kept in the new policy directing that it should not be allowed to keep on holding mineral reserves unutilised beyond a stipulated period. In such case, the non-mineral bearing States would be given mining lease of the unutilised reserves.

Though the country is endowed with mineral resources, including gold and diamond, Dr Reddy wondered why the country is still importing gold and diamond. He was of the view that the country was not able to explore abundant mineral resources due to lack of co-ordination and lagging behind in modern technology. The country, thus, required huge foreign direct investment and modern technology for rapid development of the mines and mineral resources.

FDI inflow

The Minister said, "We expect the inflow FDI of about Rs 1,00,000 crore within the next two years, and the Government has plans to create at least one million fresh jobs from the mineral sector." He felt that the reputed international companies had ample opportunity to participate as partners of the development.

Dr Reddy indicated that the Government would encourage the development of mineral sector through joint venture projects. It would be convenient for a foreign company to operate in India, if they set up joint venture projects with local partners.

He said that his Ministry had plans to create Mineral Development Fund. The fund would be created out of portion of royalty income by the mineral-bearing States. In fact, royalty rates on minerals would shortly be revised, he indicated.

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