Metals & Mining News

Mines and Minerals Act: Offshore Mineral (Development and Regulation) bill passed by Lok Sabha

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The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a Bill to pave the way for tapping India’s offshore mineral resources. This amendment bill to the Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002 aims to establish a fair and transparent mechanism to allocate the operating rights for those engaged in offshore mineral extraction.

While introducing the Bill, Mines minister Prahlad Joshi had said it will “remove the impasse in the sector”.

According to the statement of objects and reasons, the Bill enables the central government to frame rules for the conservation and systematic development of minerals in offshore areas.

It also aims for the protection of the environment by preventing or controlling any pollution which may be caused by the exploration or production operations.

“There is an urgent need to introduce auction as the method of allocation of operating rights in the offshore areas to enable early allocation of operating rights through a transparent and non-discretionary process,” Joshi had said.

This Bill also seeks to create an Offshore Areas Mineral Trust, similar to the District Mineral Fund, to maintain a non-lapsable fund under the public account of India to ensure availability of funds for exploration, mitigation of adverse impact of offshore mining, disaster relief, research, work for interest and benefit of the people affected by exploration or production operations.It has been proposed to grant production leases to the private sector only through auction. Operating rights without competitive bidding can be granted on nomination basis to public sector entity in the mineral bearing areas.The Bill seeks to introduce a composite licence, which is a two-stage operating right granted for the purpose of undertaking exploration followed by production operation. These composite licences shall also be granted only through auction by competitive bidding to the private sector.

For atomic minerals, grant of exploration licence or production lease shall be made only to a public sector entity.

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