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Ministry of Mines grants exploration licences to private agencies for mineral projects

Monday, 18 Dec 2023
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The Ministry of Mines on 15 December, 2023 directly sanctioned exploration licences to five notified private exploration agencies (NPEAs) for critical and deep-seated mineral projects.

These licensees selected by the Centre without any auction process would be allowed to participate in the auction of the said minerals, which was previously not granted. The exploration blocks will include iron ore, graphite, platinum group elements (PGE), gold, bauxite, nickel, cobalt, and rare earth elements (REE).

The 17 projects, including 11 of critical minerals granted to the five NPEAs are located in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Gujarat and Karnataka. Gemcokati Exploration, an NPEA in Maharashtra, acquired the highest six projects, while Kolkata-based Maheshwari Mining secured four projects. Both Geovale Services and Geoexplore have three projects each, while United Exploration received one project.

The government through National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) provides an incentive of 25 percent of the approved project cost to exploration agencies. A total of Rs 15.88 crore have also been sanctioned from NMET funds, as per the Ministry.

The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, MMDR Act was amended through the MMDR Amendment Act, 2021, which, inter alia, empowers the central government to notify entities, which may undertake prospecting operations.

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