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Mines Ministry Launches Fourth Tranche of Auction of Critical and Strategic Minerals

K M Dayashankar

Declares Preferred Bidders for the 1st Tranche of Auction

“First tranche of auction of Offshore Mineral Blocks to be launched within 100 days”: G Kishan Reddy

NEW DELHI, JUNE 24, 2024: Union Minister of Coal and Mines G. Kishan Reddy and Minister of State for Coal and Mines Satish Chandra Dubey launched the 4th tranche of auction of critical and strategic minerals at a programme, held today, at Scope Convention Centre, CGO Complex, New Delhi.

The occasion witnessed string of other events like declaration the preferred bidders for the 6 blocks put up in auction during the 1st Tranche; handing over of certificates to 02 newly Notified Private Exploration Agencies (NPEAs); hand over the sanction letters to R&D institutes and announcement of scheme for partial reimbursement of exploration expenses by exploration licence holders.

The 4th tranche of auction launched today included 21 blocks of critical mineral. Out of these 21 blocks, 11 are fresh blocks, spanning six States, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. These blocks contain a variety of minerals including Graphite, Glauconite, Phosphorite, Potash, Nickel, PGE, Phosphate and Rare Earth Elements (REE). Further, as part of this Tranche, 10 critical mineral blocks are on offer as the “second attempt” blocks of previous tranches of auction. These 10 blocks are located in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and have important critical minerals like Tungsten, Vanadium, Graphite, Glauconite, Cobalt and Nickel.

Further, the Union Minister of Coal and Mines and Minister of State for Coal and Mines declared the preferred bidders for the 6 blocks put up in auction during the 1st Tranche launched on 29th November, 2023. The details of preferred bidders are given below:

Sl. No. Mineral Block Name State Mineral Name Concession
Name of the Preferred Bidder Auction Premium
1 Babja Graphite and Manganese Block Odisha Graphite and Manganese Ore ML Agrasen Sponge Private Limited 85.05
2 Biarpalli Graphite and Manganese Block Odisha Graphite and Manganese ML Agrasen Sponge Private Limited 70.05
3 Akharkata Graphite Block Odisha Graphite CL Kundan Gold Mines Private Limited 13.05
4 Iluppakudi Graphite Block Tamil Nadu Graphite CL Dalmia Bharat Refractories Limited 45.00
5 Pahadi Kalan-Gora Kalan Phosphorite Block Uttar Pradesh Phosphorite CL Sagar Stone Industries 400.00
6 Katghora Lithium and REE Block Chhattisgarh Lithium and REE CL Maiki South Mining Private Limited 76.05

Union Minister of Coal and Mines also handed over certificates to 02 newly Notified Private Exploration Agencies (NPEAs) in the programme. This is in line with the aim to increase the pace of exploration in the country and to bring advanced technology in the exploration of minerals, for which the MMDR Act, 1957 was amended in 2021 to allow notification of private exploration agencies (PEAs) who can undertake exploration operations without a prospecting licence. With the notification of these two private agencies, the total of NPEAs has increased to 22. Till now, 31 projects for different commodities have been taken by the NPEAs from NMET fund amounting to approximately ₹35.23 Cr.

Recognizing the paramount importance of safety, economy, speed and the efficiency in extraction of mineral resources and in its conversion into viable economic alloys and metals, Ministry of Mines, Government of India has been funding research and development projects (R&D projects) of many research institutions in mining and metallurgy sector since 1978. Hon’ble Minister today handed over the sanction letters of grant of funds to 24 R&D institutes and 10 start-ups for total amount of ₹12.37 Cr. and ₹11.26 Cr., respectively.

Further, Union Minister of Mines also announced a scheme for partial reimbursement of exploration expenses of the Exploration Licence holders. Under the scheme, exploration expenditure of up to 50% of cost subject to upper limit of ₹20 Cr. will be reimbursed. The provision of exploration licence was introduced through an amendment in the MMDR Act in 2023.  A total of 20 blocks for Exploration Licence were handed over to various States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. The State Government of Karnataka and Rajasthan are the first States to notify the auction of Exploration Licence. Currently, auction for 9 exploration licences are notified by various States. The scheme of partial reimbursement of exploration expenditure will encourage junior mining companies to participate in auction for exploration licence and will help in building a strong exploration ecosystem in the country.

Addressing a press conference on occasion the Union Minister Shri G Kishan Reddy announced that the Mines Ministry has made a plan to launch the first tranche of auction of Offshore mineral blocks within first 100 days of the new Govt.

Critical minerals are the foundation of contemporary industrial economies which are important component of technological advancements. The forthcoming global economy will hinge on technologies reliant on minerals such as lithium, graphite, cobalt, titanium, rare earth elements (REE), etc. Their scarcity or reliance on a few nations for extraction and processing could pose significant vulnerabilities to our supply chains.

In light of the same, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act) was amended on 17thAugust 2023 whereunder the Central Government was conferred the power to grant mineral concession of 24 critical and strategic minerals.

Earlier, the Central Government had launched 3 tranches of auction of critical and strategic mineral blocks through NIT dated 29th November, 2023, 29th February, 2024 and 14th March, 2024. In these three tranches, total of 38 critical mineral blocks were notified for auction, bearing thirteen unique critical and strategic minerals. These blocks are located across 14 States and Union Territory.


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