PM's intervention sought for seamless mining licence for existing explorers

New Delhi (IANS) The mining industry has called for intervention of the Prime Minister to prevent denial of mining rights to existing mineral explorers under the new reform initiative that seeks to establish a seamless Composite Exploration-cum-Mining- cum-Production License (CEMPL) regime by amending the MMDR Act, 1957.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) has sought his intervention to ensure policy certainty and security of existing vested rights under Section 10A(2)(b) of MMDR Act as it would go a long way in restoring the investors' confidence in the Indian mineral sector.

"...we gather from media reports that Government intends to do away with Section 10A(2)(b) of the MMDR Act, 1957 wherein existing concessionaires (RP/PL holders or reconnaissance permit and prospecting license holders) have already been guaranteed seamless transition to the mining stage. This would amount to 'robbing Peter to pay Paul'.

"...we request you to kindly advise the Ministry of Mines to ensure/protect the rights of existing concessionaires by not removing or tweaking Section 10A(2)(b) and in fact, bring in provisions where existing concessionaires covered under Section 10A(2)(b) are immediately granted mining rights seamlessly," the letter signed by FIMI Secretary General R.K. Sharma said.

As part of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package laid out by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week, she also announced structural reform initiative for the mineral sector that allows offering composite mineral explorati on licences to bidders. About 500 mineral blocks would be offered to companies under this regime.

FIMI has said that while the reform initiative for the mineral sector was welcome, it should not come at the cost of existing investors and explorers who have have invested huge resources and long years to undertake risky exploration activities and have helped India to discover valuable mineral deposits.

Hundreds of PL and RPs have been issued to mineral companies in India. The 2015 amendment to the MMDR Act gave them hope of getting mining leases of mineral bearing areas that have been explored and prospected by them. But, if changes in the legislation makes every thing available prospectively without benefits being extended to existing license holders, FIMI said, it will lead to irreparable loss of investor confidence in Indian mineral sector, apart from multiple litigations in courts.

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