Critical mineral block auction: Reddy launches 4th tranche; offshore blocks to be auctioned within 100 days

Alongwith the launch of the 4th tranche of auction of critical and strategic minerals, the government also announced winners for the first tranche of auctions
Alt="G Kishan Reddy"
Critical mineral block auction: Reddy launches 4th tranche; offshore blocks to be auctioned within 100 daysX

New Delhi: Minister for Mines G Kishan Reddy and Minister of State (MoS) for Mines Satish Chandra Dubey launched the 4th tranche of auction of critical and strategic minerals on Monday in New Delhi. The latest tranche of auction includes 21 blocks of critical mineral. Out of these 21 blocks, 11 are fresh blocks, spanning six States, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. These blocks contain a variety of minerals including Graphite, Glauconite, Phosphorite, Potash, Nickel, PGE, Phosphate and Rare Earth Elements (REE). Further, as part of this Tranche, 10 critical mineral blocks are on offer as the “second attempt” blocks of previous tranches of auction. These 10 blocks are located in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and have important critical minerals like Tungsten, Vanadium, Graphite, Glauconite, Cobalt and Nickel.

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Addressing a press conference on the occasion, the Union Minister announced that the Mines Ministry has made a plan to launch the first tranche of auction of offshore mineral blocks within first 100 days of the formation of the new government.

Winners of first tranche of critical mineral blocks auction announced

On the occasion, successful bidders for the six blocks put up during the 1st tranche of critical mineral mine auction were also announced. Agrasen Sponge Private Limited bagged two Graphite and Manganese Ore blocks in Odisha, while Kundan Gold Mines Private Limited secured a Graphite mine in Odisha, Dalmia Bharat Refractories Limited won a Graphite mine in Tamil Nadu, Sagar Stone Industries secured a Phosphorite mine in Uttar Pradesh and Maiki South Mining Private Limited bagged a Lithium and REE Block in Chhattisgarh.

Reddy hands over certificates to 2 new private exploration agencies

The Union Minister of Coal and Mines also handed over certificates to two newly Notified Private Exploration Agencies (NPEAs) in the programme. This is in line with the aim to increase the pace of exploration in the country and to bring advanced technology in the exploration of minerals, for which the MMDR Act, 1957 was amended in 2021 to allow notification of private exploration agencies (PEAs) who can undertake exploration operations without a prospecting licence. With the notification of these two private agencies, the total of NPEAs has increased to 22. Till now, 31 projects for different commodities have been taken by the NPEAs from NMET fund amounting to approximately Rs 35.23 crore.

Recognising the paramount importance of safety, economy, speed and the efficiency in extraction of mineral resources and in its conversion into viable economic alloys and metals, the Ministry of Mines, has been funding research and development projects (R&D projects) of many research institutions in mining and metallurgy sector since 1978. The Union Minister handed over sanction letters of grant of funds to 24 R&D institutes and 10 start-ups for a total amount of Rs 12.37 crore and Rs 11.26 crore, respectively.

Alt="G Kishan Reddy"
Govt cancels auction of 14 of 18 critical minerals put on sale in 2nd round

Further, Reddy also announced a scheme for partial reimbursement of exploration expenses of the Exploration Licence holders. Under the scheme, exploration expenditure of up to 50 percent of the cost subject to the upper limit of Rs 20 crore will be reimbursed. The provision of exploration licence was introduced through an amendment in the MMDR Act in 2023.  A total of 20 blocks for Exploration Licence were handed over to various States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. The state government of Karnataka and Rajasthan are the first states to notify the auction of Exploration Licence. Currently, auction for nine exploration licences are notified by various states. The scheme of partial reimbursement of exploration expenditure will encourage junior mining companies to participate in auction for exploration licence and will help in building a strong exploration ecosystem in the country.

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