Mar 15 2014 | Focus

Mining Blues

India is endowed with rich mineral resources. The mining sector has contributed around 2.31 per cent to India’s GDP in 2012-13. India produces 87 minerals. Total value of mineral production (excluding atomic minerals) during 2012-13 was at Rs 2,505 billion (US$ 46.15 billion). The Ministry of Mines is responsible for survey and exploration of all minerals, other than natural gases, petroleum and atomic minerals, for mining and metallurgy of nonferrous metals like aluminum, copper, zinc, lead, gold, nickel, etc. and for administration of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957 in respect of all mines and minerals other than coal, natural gas and petroleum. The mineral concessions are granted by the State Government. The mining lease can be granted directly in notified areas only through competitive bidding. However, prior approval of the Central Government is required for granting mineral concessions in respect of minerals specified in Parts ‘B’ and ‘C’ of the First Schedule to the MMDR Act, 1957, including iron ore.


The index of mineral production of mining and quarrying sector in December 2013 was higher by 7.4 per cent compared to that of the preceding month. The mineral sector has shown a positive growth of 0.4 per cent during December 2013 as compared to that of the corresponding month of previous year. The total value of mineral production (excluding atomic & minor minerals) in the country during December 2013 was Rs 18,735 crore. The contribution of coal was the highest at Rs 6,540 crore (35 per cent). Next in the order of importance were: petroleum (crude) Rs 5,945 crore, iron ore Rs 2,522 crore, natural gas (utilized) Rs 1,860 crore, limestone Rs 376 crore and lignite Rs 481 crore. These six minerals together contributed about 95 per cent of the total value of mineral production in December 2013.

Production level of important minerals in December 2013 were: coal 534 lakh tonne, lignite 39 lakh tonne, natural gas (utilized) 2906 million cu. m., petroleum (crude) 33 lakh tonne, bauxite 2615 thousand tonne, chromite 286 thousand tonne, copper conc. 12 thousand tonne, gold 122 kg., iron ore 124 lakh tonne, lead conc. 16 thousand tonne, manganese ore 237 thousand tonne, zinc conc. 124 thousand tonnes, apatite & phosphorite 141 thousand tonne, dolomite 552 thousand tonne, limestone 219 lakh tonne, magnesite 14 thousand tonne and diamond 3206 carat.

In December 2013 the output of bauxite increased by 77.8 per cent, diamond 47.1 per cent, gold 41.9 per cent, lignite 36.5 per cent, chromite 17.5 per cent, coal 13.0 per cent, manganese ore 11.4 per cent, dolomite 9.1 per cent, zinc conc. 7.6 per cent, apatite & phosphorite 7.2 per cent petroleum (crude) 3.8 per cent, lead conc. 3.7 per cent, natural gas (utilized) 3.5 per cent and magnesite 1.9 percent. However the production of limestone decreased by 0.4 per cent, copper conc. 1.7 per cent and iron ore 2.1 percent.


Iron ore production declined by 18.62 per cent from 2010-11 to 2011-12 and by 19.31 per cent from 2011-12 to 2012-13. The suspension of iron ore mining operations in Karnataka by the Supreme Court in its order dated 29.7.2011 in SLP (Civil) nos. 7366-7367/2010 and order dated 26.8.2011 in WP (Civil) no. 562 of 2009 and Supreme Court order dated 5.10.2012 in WP (Civil) no. 435 of 2012 to suspend iron ore mining in the State of Goa has also contributed in the decline of iron ore production during this period. In Karnataka, mining operations have resumed in 19 mines by following the directions issued by the Supreme Court in its judgment dated 18.04.2013. The Government of Goa has taken steps for e-auction of 11.48 MT of excavated iron ore lying in mines and stockyards as per direction of the Supreme Court in its order dated 11th November, 2013.


As per the information provided by the Government of Jharkhand to the Ministry of Mines, there are 30 mining leases for iron ore in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand in favour of private companies. The Ministry of Environment & Forests examines the impact of mining proposals on the flora and fauna and invariably stipulates conditions to mitigate the impact of mining on the forests and for conservation of wildlife in the area. The mining leases are executed only after getting requisite clearance under the Forest Conservation Act and Wildlife (Protection) Act, as the case may be.


In the last couple of years the mining sector in India is dominated with allegations of rampant corruption. Illegal mining activities in various parts of the country have plagued the sector to a great extent. The judiciary had intervened number of times to set the matter straight. The apex court has also banned mining activities in absence of clarity. As per section 23C of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Act, 1957, the State Governments have been empowered to make rules for preventing illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals.

As per information compiled by Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) the incidents of illegal mining have increased during last three years period. The MMDR Act, 1957 provides a penalty of imprisonment for a term up to two years or a fine extending to Rs. 25,000 or with both in cases where there is a loss of revenue to the State Government from royalty, rents or taxes and the actual loss of mineral on account of illegal mining. The Government of India has set up task force to conduct inspections to curb illegal mining in mineral rich States and so far, 70 such inspections have been conducted. Justice M.B. Shah Commission was appointed by the Government of India to enquire into cases of illegal mining. As per the report submitted by the commission in the Parliament recently, minerals worth Rs 60,000 crore were illegally mined in Odisha during 2008-2011.


The high court has directed Government of Gujarat to ensure closure of all mines with immediate effect which are without environmental clearance. The court has taken serious note of the laxity shown in the list of 7,990 leaseholders submitted by the state government. In certain cases, the state government has not mentioned the place or survey number of the land where mining is undertaken. The court has ordered to stop all such mining operations. The HC has asked categorically to follow Supreme Court guidelines issued in February 2012. The Supreme Court has made it mandatory for all mining projects to obtain environmental clearance before starting excavation work. The apex court had ruled that the states can grant leases or renew them for mining minor minerals even in less than five hectares area only after prior approval from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF). In the state of Gujarat, there are 2,887 mines that are located within five km radius of forest area, nature parks, reserved forests, and sanctuaries.



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Andhra Pradesh
































Madhya Pradesh




Source: Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM)


The net present value (NPV) realisation issue has come to the fore and is likely to affect the Indian mining sector. The NPV is the amount the user agencies need to deposit for diversion of forest land. The NPV is charged Rs 5.8 lakh to Rs 9.2 lakh per hectare depending on the type and density of the diverted forest land. It includes the land cost along with tangible and intangible benefits of the forest area. The user agencies are required to pay NPV for diversion of forest land as per the Supreme Court (SC) order in 2010. The central empowered cum coordination committee (CEC) appointed by Supreme Court had recommended that 50 per cent of the NPV collected from mining lease holders should be used for inclusive growth, development of villages, gram panchayats and peripheral areas affected by mining activities.

The Union ministry of environment & forests (MoEF) has recently sought from Odisha Government information about the net present value (NPV) realised from the miners for diversion of forest land in Odisha. Besides, the environment ministry is seeking information about the utilization of NPV realised. The Odisha government is yet to collect NPV arrears to the tune of Rs 813.46 crore from mine lessee. The state forest department had recently threatened to scrap forest clearance of lessees who would fail to deposit the dues within a month. Big names like Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), and Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha Ltd (Idcol) are in the defaulters list. NPV amounting to Rs 76.79 crore is pending from SAIL for the forest land coming within its Harmath iron and manganese mines under Keonjhar division. Rs 301.95 crore NPV is pending from OMC for its 11 mines with deposits of iron ore, manganese, chromite and china clay.


With regard to proposed Posco project of 12 MTPA steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has accorded environmental clearance for a four million tonne per annum (MTPA) integrated iron and steel plant with captive power plant (4×100 MW). The state government has already handed over 546 acre of land to Posco. The company is yet to clear the dues towards the net present value (NPV) of trees that are likely to be cut for its mega steel plant. The rest 1,554 acre of land is ready to be handed over to the company once the NPV’s are cleared. It is learnt from media reports that around Rs 19 crore are pending against the company.


The Government of India allows 100% FDI on the automatic route in the mineral sector. As per the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act, 1957), a mining concession cannot be given to any person unless such person is an Indian national, or a company as defined in sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Companies Act, 1956. The Government has introduced the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011 (MMDR Bill 2011) in the Lok Sabha which, inter alia, prescribes that no person shall be eligible for grant of a mineral concession unless such person is a citizen of India or a company as defined in sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Companies Act, 1956.


India’s largest miner, Coal India Ltd (CIL) has seven wholly owned coal producing subsidiaries and one mine planning and Consultancy Company. CIL accounts for over 80 per cent of India’s coal production. Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal has recently said that the decision with regard to CIL restructuring will be taken only after analyzing the consultant’s report on the matter. T L Shankar Committee had recommended restructuring of Coal India subsidiaries into separate entities. This would help in increasing efficiency, improve productivity and make these companies globally competitive. Following recommendation by the T L Shankar Committee, the Government of India has appointed consultancy firm Deloitte last year to study the scope of restructuring of the company. The consultant has already submitted the report.


Essar Energy plc has recently announced that Mahan Coal Ltd has secured stage 2 forest clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for its Mahan coal block in Madhya Pradesh. Mahan Coal Ltd is held 50 per cent by Essar Power Ltd (98.27 per cent subsidiary of Essar Energy plc) and the Mahan coal block was originally allotted in 2006. This clearance is subject to the fulfillment of some further conditions. Mahan Coal Ltd will now be required to sign a mining lease agreement with the state of Madhya Pradesh before commencing mining operations.


Moody’s Investors Service has a negative outlook for the minerals and metal sector keeping into account the expected growth of the Indian economy in FY2014-15. With the pro-active approach of the State Governments, illegal mining activities needs to be curbed at the earliest. The mining reform needs to be initiated and transparent mechanism should be put in place.

The Supreme Court guidelines should be strictly adhered to. It will take quite number of years for the mining sector to regain its glorious past.

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