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Union Ministers Launch Fourth Tranche of Critical and Strategic Mineral Auction

New Delhi: The Union Minister of Coal and Mines, G. Kishan Reddy, alongside Minister of State for Coal and Mines, Satish Chandra Dubey, today launched the fourth tranche of the auction of critical and strategic minerals at a ceremony held at the Scope Convention Centre, CGO Complex. This significant event included several key announcements and milestones for the mining sector.

The launch of the fourth tranche featured 21 blocks of critical minerals. Among these, 11 are newly identified blocks spread across six states: Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. These blocks are rich in a variety of minerals, including Graphite, Glauconite, Phosphorite, Potash, Nickel, Platinum Group Elements (PGE), Phosphate, and Rare Earth Elements (REE). The remaining 10 blocks are “second attempt” blocks from previous auctions, located in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu, containing minerals such as Tungsten, Vanadium, Graphite, Glauconite, Cobalt, and Nickel.

During the event, the ministers also declared the preferred bidders for the six blocks auctioned in the first tranche launched on November 29, 2023. Additionally, certificates were handed over to two newly Notified Private Exploration Agencies (NPEAs), increasing the total number of NPEAs to 22. These agencies are part of the government’s initiative to accelerate mineral exploration by leveraging advanced technology, enabled by the 2021 amendment to the MMDR Act, 1957.

The ministers further distributed sanction letters to 24 research and development institutes and 10 startups, with total grants amounting to ₹12.37 crore and ₹11.26 crore, respectively. This funding aims to enhance safety, efficiency, and innovation in the extraction and processing of mineral resources. The Ministry of Mines has been supporting such R&D projects since 1978.

In a significant move to boost exploration activities, the ministers announced a scheme for the partial reimbursement of exploration expenses for Exploration Licence holders. This scheme offers reimbursement of up to 50% of costs, with a cap of ₹20 crore. The provision of exploration licenses was introduced through a 2023 amendment to the MMDR Act, and today, 20 blocks for exploration licenses were handed over to various states, including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.

Karnataka and Rajasthan are the first states to notify the auction of Exploration Licences, with a total of nine exploration licenses currently auctioned by various states. The reimbursement scheme is expected to encourage junior mining companies to participate in these auctions, fostering a robust exploration ecosystem in India.

Addressing the press, G. Kishan Reddy revealed plans to launch the first tranche of offshore mineral block auctions within the first 100 days of the new government, highlighting the Ministry’s commitment to advancing India’s mining sector.

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