The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015 (MMDR Act, 2015) ended the first-come, first-served system of mining allocations and has brought in an auctions regime. This was intended to bring in ‘greater transparency’ and ‘[remove] discretion’ (ministry of mines, Government of India, 2019) in the allotment of natural resources. The Government of India noted that State governments would receive an ‘increased share [of revenues] from the mining sector’ with the new system.
According to the ministry of mines, 114 non-fuel mines have been successfully auctioned as of August 2021. These include iron ore, limestone, iron ore & manganese, bauxite, manganese, graphite, gold, chromite, copper, and diamond –technically qualified bidders (i.e., companies fulfilling certain criteria) participated in an ascending forward online electronic auction and bid on the percentage of the value of minerals that would be despatched over the lifespan of the mining operation.
In a new study from the Centre for Social and Economic Progress, authors Rajesh Chadha and Ganesh Sivamani offer an overview of the auction bids for non-fuel mines and argue that the system needs a thorough review.
The first year after the amendment in 2015 saw just six auctions. However, this number more than doubled over the next two years, to 15 and 14 respectively. The years 2018–19 and 2019–20 saw a surge in auctions (mainly of brownfield mines, i.e., already mined blocks, unlike greenfield...
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