As many as 100 virgin mineral blocks across the country are ready for online auctions, said Union minister for mines, rural development, parliamentary affairs and Panchayati Raj Narendra Singh Tomar.
“So far, 53 mines have been auctioned. The electronic auction of these assets has brought in incremental revenue of Rs 1.43 trillion to states. The additional revenue generation has been possible only because of auctions”, Tomar told media persons on the sidelines of the seventh edition of the International Conference on Aluminium (INCAL), 2019.
On mines headed for expiry by March 31, 2020, he said the mines ministry is fully prepared to auction them in the stipulated timeframe.
Out of 288 mines due to lapse by March 31, 2020, only 59 are operative. The lease validity of these non-captive mines was extended till that period under Section 8 (3) of the amended Mines and Minerals- Development & Regulation Act, 2015. The central mines ministry has been pushing mineral bearing states to expedite the roadmap for auctioning these leases to ensure there is no deficit of raw materials, primarily iron ore. The lapsable mines need to be explored up to the G2 level to be eligible for auctions.
Earlier, addressing delegates at INCAL 2019, Tomar credited his government for introducing transparency in mineral block allotments through online auctions. The mines ministry has also initiated the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) to take up projects for the benefit of people affected by mining activities. “We have collected Rs 23,000 crore as proceeds to the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana. More than 100,000 programmes have been initiated drawing funds from this scheme”, the minister said.
Tomar hailed aluminium as the metal of the future, noting that its applications have been diversifying. He applauded the state-run National Aluminium Company (Nalco) for its export performance while underscoring the need for ramping up domestic production. “The country’s aluminium demand is going to reach 10 million tonnes by 2030 and so, aluminium production has to be raised. Our per capita aluminium consumption is about 2.5 kg but we have plans to scale it up”, he said.
Speaking on the occasion, TK Chand, chairman & managing director (CMD) at Nalco and president, Aluminium Association of India (AAI) said, the aluminium industry was passing a challenging phase in the backdrop of tumbling LME (London Metal Exchange) prices and rising production costs. To substantiate, Chand said LME prices have dropped to a point where 40 per cent of the smelters across the world are bleeding losses.
Offering a recipe to the aluminium industry, he said, “The industry needs to focus on three Ss- speed, savings and sustainability. The focus should also be on cost reduction to remain competitive.”
Subroto Bagchi, chairman of Odisha Skills Development Authority (OSDA) suggested to the Indian aluminium industry to sharpen the focus on quality, cost and delivery and implement the Six Sigma programme on the lines of global aluminium giant Alcoa.