New Delhi: Minister for Mines Pralhad Joshi launched India’s first-ever tranche of e-auction of critical and strategic minerals blocks on Wednesday. The Centre has put up a total of 20 mines spread across eight states — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat and Jharkhand — up on offer. The list of minerals being auctioned include Glauconite, Graphite, Graphite and Manganese, Lithium and REE, Lithium, REE and Bauxite, Molybdenum, Nickel and Chromium, Nickel and Copper, Nickel, Chromium and PGE, Phosphorite and Potash. Out of 20, 16 mineral blocks are put up for grant of Composite Licence and four mineral blocks for grant of Mining Lease.
The commencement of the sale of tender documents has started from Wednesday itself. Pre-bid conference with prospective bidder is scheduled on December 22, last date of sale of tender document is January 16, 2024 and the last date of bid submission is January 22, 2024. Thereafter, e-auction will commence for the selection of preferred bidder. The entire auction process will be completed within 103 days from the date of launch of auction, said the Ministry of Mines.
Terming India’s plan for energy transition ambitious, the minister said that the transition cycle will drive a huge increase in the requirements of critical minerals. “In order to achieve this, state agencies such as the Geological Survey of India have shifted their focus to exploration and are enhancing the resource mapping of critical minerals and deep-seated minerals. As a result, exploration projects by GSI has significantly increased… more than 111 percent in the last three years alone, from 59 in 2021 to 125 in 2023-24. The National Mineral Exploration Trust is also boosting the exploration of critical minerals with the involvement of private agencies. So far, Rs 240 crore has been approved towards the exploration of such critical minerals,” said Joshi while launching the auction process.
Stressing on the need to secure supply chains to reduce import dependency and enhance national security, Mines Secretary VL Kantha Rao said, “There are also collaborative international groups, multilateral engagements that India is part of that are focussed on building resilient critical mineral value chain. Ministry of Mines is actively engaging in these partnerships and alliances. To name a few, we are part of the Mineral Security Partnership and we have recently joined the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, whose pillar two has been signed 10 days back which is about supply chains.”
“The government of India is committed to fostering the growth of the domestic critical mineral sector by focussing on exploration, processing, use and recycling. Regarding exploration of critical minerals in India, the Geological Survey of India and other agencies are being encouraged to take up many more projects which are either self-funded or are funded by the Centre. In this financial year, we have taken up 125 new projects for exploration of critical minerals in the country. We have also ensured that incentives are given for exploring and discovering critical minerals. There is an incentive of up to 25 percent for discovery of critical minerals by any of these agencies,” said the Secretary.