New Delhi: The Lok Sabha passed the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 on Friday amid din by created by Opposition parties over the last week’s violence in Delhi. The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill as moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi for consideration and passing.
The bill seeks amendment to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and to amend the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.
Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill passed without discussion
Because of the uproar by Opposition members, the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill was passed without discussion in the House. The Bill proposes to remove end-use restrictions for participation in coal mine auctions. The move will open up the coal sector fully for commercial mining for all domestic and global companies, paving the way for the implementation of the government’s decision to allow 100 percent FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in coal mining.
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It would also pave the way for auctioning of iron ore mining leases which expire this month.
What exactly changes with the passage of the bill?
Currently, companies acquiring Schedule II and Schedule III coal mines through auctions can use the coal produced only for specified end-uses such as power generation and steel production. The bill removes this restriction on the use of coal mined by such companies. The bill allows companies to carry on coal mining operation for their own consumption, sale or for any other purposes, as may be specified by the Central government. Currently, this was the preserve of state-run coal miner Coal India Limited only.
The bill clarifies that the companies need not possess any prior coal mining experience in India in order to participate in the auction of coal and lignite blocks. Further, the competitive bidding process for auction of coal and lignite blocks will not apply to mines considered for allotment to a government company or its joint venture for own consumption, sale or any other specified purpose, and a company that has been awarded a power project on the basis of a competitive bid for tariff.