Aiming to be the first state to initiate auction of mineral blocks, Odisha has decided to notify 10 blocks for auctions by the end of this month.
Among the blocks to be auctioned include three iron ore, five manganese ore, one limestone and one bauxite block. The state government, however, decided to exclude Khandadhar and Mankad Nacha iron ore leases since their DGPS (Differential Global Positioning System) survey is yet to be completed. The state government had earlier decided to reserve these two blocks in favour of its mining PSU Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).
"We will issue notification for auction of 10 mineral blocks by the end of this month. Auctions in respect of the selected blocks would be done next month", said state steel & mines minister Prafulla Mallick.
The auction platform is set to be provided by central PSU MSTC Ltd. SBI Capital Markets Ltd (SBI Caps), a fully owned subsidiary of State Bank of India is the transaction advisor for conducting mineral auctions.
The transaction advisor would assist the state government in fixing floor price for auctions.
To kickstart the auction process, the state government has already formed a committee under its development commissioner U N Behera. The committee's mandate is to monitor the preparatory work relating to auction of major mineral concessions including conduct of DGPS survey and preparation of tender documents.
Realising the need for exploration, the state government has already come out with a dedicated policy on mineral exploration. Central government agencies like Geological Survey of India (GSI) and Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd (MECL) were being roped in by the state to carry out exploration work of the identified mineral blocks.
According to the notified Auction Rules, 2015, the state governments will have the discretion to reserve particular mine or mines for any particular end use. Auctions can be conducted only through an online electronic platform. The state government may utilise any online platform which meets the minimum technical and security requirements as specified in the guidelines for compliance to quality requirements of e-procurements issued by the standardisation testing and quality certification directorate under department of information technology. The Union government has proposed an upfront payment of 0.5 per cent of value of resources by companies, who secure licence for mining major minerals like iron ore through auction under the new law.