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External Audit of Mines made mandatory –

The Department of Mines has made external mandatory in addition to statutory inspection by state agencies and Indian Bureau of mines.

A meeting was recently held at the ministry of mines with all states to discuss the issues following the newly passed mining ordinance and sharing of best practices for overall mineral development and regulation in the country between the states and the centre.

This appointment of external auditors follows the issue of periodicity of inspections by the or State government.

It could be mentioned that the government recently notified 31 minerals as “minor” minerals and the entire regulation of these 31 minerals will be with the state governments.

In the meeting, the state governments have suggested that conservation and development of minerals in the first schedule, that is major minerals and notified minerals like iron ore, bauxite etc in the fourth schedule should be delegated to Indian Bureau of Mines and the States can be vested with the responsibility to look after development of remaining minerals, according to official sources.

In the meeting the State government of Kerala presented the legal framework and the auction scheme prepared for allotment of iron ore (category C) for the auction of 15 mines while the ministry asked the states to expedite the process of furnishing the list of non working mines.

One major issue which has raised considerable discontentment among the states, according to official sources, is the mandate of the ordinance requiring them to extend the tenure of the leases of those mines where the mineral is used for captive purpose or where the lease commenced before the commencement of Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation Amendment Ordinance 2015 even if the mineral is used for other than captive purpose.

According to states a major hurdle in this requirement is stamp duty. The centre in this regard assured the states that any action taken by the states in this regard owing to imposition of for extension of the lease should not impose any hindrance.

In fact the centre has assured that in order to expedite such renewals, the extension of environmental and forest clearances for such extension of leases has already been taken up with the ministry of environment.

Another issue that is posing difficulty, as per states, in implementing the concept of mineralisation as precondition to exploration is lack of data and information.

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