Kant said importing minerals when there were ample reserves within the country made no sense.
Niti Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant, on Friday, questioned the logic of imposing bans on mining amidst imports of the same minerals.
Kant said mining technologies had tremendously advanced to take care of environmental and social concerns and hence there should be no fear over mining. He said importing minerals when there were ample reserves within the country made no sense.
“There is a ban on iron ore mining in Karnataka and so you are importing when you have your own iron ore. That makes no sense. There are various advance technologies now that allow absolutely safe ways to mine,” he said during an interaction with media on the sidelines of a conference on mining in Indore -- the fourth National Conclave on Mines and Minerals organised by the Ministry of Mines.
Mining in Karnataka and Goa, two states rich in iron-ore, a key ingredient for steel-making, has suffered severe damage in the last five years as Supreme Court came down on illegal mining and improper allocation of mines. On several occasions, the Court allowed mining with a cap on quantum of mining, resulting in production loss and denting of investor sentiment.
Kant called for major policy changes to allocation and operation of mines in order to attract private investment, pointing out that share of mining in India’s GDP was a mere 1.4percent. The share of mining in South Africa’s GDP is 7 percent, China’s is 6.5 percent and Chile’s is in excess of 10 percent, he said.
He said ‘Make in India’ was not possible till the country had ‘Mine in India’, referring to one of the flagship schemes of the Narendra Modi government.
Kant said environmental clearances, a major roadblock in mining activities, should be given at the time of award of the tender and not later.
“Environmental clearance is five-six years. It should be given with the tender or within three months of the award of the tender,” he said while addressing the audience in the presence of Minister of Mines Narendra Singh Tomar, inviting wide applause of those present at the event.
He said prospecting licence and mining lease should be given together to ensure return on investment for the company doing the prospect and also to cut time to begin mining. Currently, the two licences are awarded separately, with no guarantee that the company doing the prospecting will also get the licence to do the mining.
Prospecting alone takes several years and hence a surety of securing mining rights post prospecting will instil greater confidence in the private companies to bid for such projects.Kant said the existing procedures for allocation of mines were outdated and needed an overhaul. He said landowners should be given the right to mine to encourage expansion in capacities.