Amendment to the Mineral Conservation and Development Rules 2017
The lease period of merchant miners extended under the section 8A(6) of the MMDR Act, would expire on 31stMarch, 2020. There are about 288 mining leases which would expire in 2020, of which 59 are working leases, which give substantial production of key minerals viz. iron ore, manganese and chromite ore etc.
The auction process needs to be initiated well in advance to ensure a seamless transition from the existing to the new lessees as the new auctioned leases and that the mineral production is not affected due to expiry of these leases. Exploration of the blocks was required to done for the auction process of these mineral blocks.
The Central Government had earlier issued a directive in 2010 which mentioned that all the existing leases have to be brought to an exploration level of G2 or G1 in 5 years’ time. It has been further strengthened by inserting rule 12 (4A) in the Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 2017 (MCDR) by way of an amendment notification, published in Gazette of India vide G.S.R. No. 289 dated 27.03.2018.
The rule mandates exploration in G2 level as stipulated under clause (a) of rule 5 of the Mineral (Evidence of Mineral Contents) Rules 2015, to be carried out in the mining leases expiring in 2020 by 1st April, 2019. The rule also lays down the timelines for implementation of the exploration plan prepared with the approval of IBM for satisfying the requirements.