The aim is to provide a level playing field to public and private sector firms.
The Centre is likely to announce a new National Mineral Policy soon, which will be industry-friendly and give a big boost to exploration activities of non-coal minerals by the private sector.
The draft policy is being given final touches and may be announced in the next two months. It is expected to result in increasing momentum in exploration of mineral in the next three to five years. It is likely to improve the investment climate in the mining sector, which is badly hit by a slowdown in demand, delayed clearance, besides other factors.
According to an industry source, at present, only 10% of the areas with established resources are being explored and private investment in exploration is almost negligible. The new policy, he said, would offer a long term export policy for the minerals, which will attract large scale investment in the commercial mining activities. It would take cognisance of the recommendations of the Committee on Royalties and other levies with a view to putting a liberal tax structure in place.
As per the draft policy, a long term export policy for the mineral sector would provide stability. “To develop mining as a standalone industry, substantial investment is required. Assurance on export of minerals will be a key factor for investment decisions particularly on FDI in the sector. The export policy should be based on a clear long term strategy,” it stated.
The Centre started the process to review the National Mineral Policy following directions of the Supreme Court. In a decision last year on the matter of illegal mining in Odisha, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to revise the policy of 2008, considering it as outdated to deal with the present day challenges. The Supreme Court emphasised on the needs of encouraging scientific mining through proper survey and exploration.
Following this, the Union Mines Ministry, headed by Narendra Singh Tomar, set up a 29-member committee, chaired by K. Rajeswara Rao, Additional Secretary in the Mines Ministry, which has representation from trade bodies like CII, FIMI, FICCI and Assocham.
In order to provide a level-playing field to both public and private sector companies, the policy has the provisions so that both are treated equally in grant of mineral concessions and only limited mining areas would be reserved by the state PSUs.