The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, 2023 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 26 July. The bill seeks to make changes to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. This law oversees the country’s mining sector.
For the purpose of regulating the mining sector, the Law divides mining-related activities into three broad categories.
These categories are:
- Recognition. This is a preliminary study that helps determine mineral resources.
- Prospecting. This involves exploring, searching for, and testing mineral deposits.
- Mining. This is clearly the commercial act of extracting minerals.
Let’s understand the three categories, one by one.
The Law establishes the meaning of recognition acts as operations carried out for the purpose of preliminary prospecting. Such acts include aerial surveys, along with geochemical and geophysical surveys. Geological mapping is also one of those activities. The Law does not allow drilling, pitting, underground excavation or trenching. The bill, however, allows these prohibited acts.
The Law offers concessions such as a reconnaissance permit, a mining lease, a prospecting license, and a composite license. The bill introduces an exploration license authorizing prospecting or reconnaissance or even both in the case of specific minerals.
Auction for the exploration license
The state government will grant the exploration license through public bidding. Details such as the form of auction and the terms and conditions will be prescribed by the central government.
Maximum area in which acts are allowed
Under the Law, activities in a region of up to 25 square kilometers are permitted by means of a prospecting license. Activities for an area of 5,000 square kilometers are allowed in a single survey permit.
Under a single exploration license, the bill allows activities in an area of 1,000 square kilometers.