The mining sector is showing signs of revival with total mineral production recording an impressive 9% growth during 2015-16 compared to the previous fiscal year. According to the latest provisional figures of the Ministry of Mines, which are yet to be released, the production of major minerals improved significantly during the last fiscal year. The minerals whose production grew substantially are bauxite (27%), chromite (33%), copper (30 %), iron ore (21 %) and lead (32 %).
An official of the Mines Ministry said the growth is significant as international commodity market is in a state of turmoil owing to weak signals coming from the Chinese economy. He said the growth is also significant keeping in mind that the sector had recorded a negative growth of 0.6% for two consecutive years (2011-12 and 2012-13). In 2014-15, the output improved marginally. However, the production of both metallic and non-metallic mineral reported an impressive growth in 2015-16. It was 495 million tonnes (MT) in 2015-16 against 452.4 MT in the previous fiscal year.
“The mining sector had been hit hard due to policy paralysis. The mining activities had come to a standstill due to various court cases, and environmental, regulatory and land acquisition issues. These were the reasons for poor growth earlier,” the official added. The official said the turnaround was possible because of transparent mining. “In order to foster transparency and discovery of fair value, it has been decided that all mineral concessions of major minerals will be granted by the state government only through e-auctions for which amendment has been made in the MMDR (Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation) Amendment Act. The Act became effective from January 2015,” he pointed out.
Iron ore production improved significantly as many of the mines which were closed in recent years in states like Goa and Orissa, started operations again. The official said the mineral output is likely to rise further in 2016-17 as six auctioned mines could start operations. In the current fiscal year, about 45 new mines are likely to be auctioned, while 17 mines which could not be given to the bidders in the first round may be re-tendered. All this will lead to increase in the mines production.