India: Minor mineral mining, including gypsum, now under state control


Updated Mon, 09 Feb 2015 13:46:44 GMT

The Centre of Mining has decided to put 31 minerals under the control of state governments by scaling down their status from major to minor as part of a mining policy change, according to Mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar. This allows states to decide the mining lease of the minerals, which account for about 60% of the total leased area in the country.

The decentralised minerals include gypsum, quartz, chalk and china clay. The change in policy will let states decide the rate of royalty, contribution to the district mineral foundation, procedure for grant of mineral concessions and rules. The Mines Ministry will allow states' public sector undertakings to explore minerals in areas under their jurisdiction.

"It is an important step in fulfilling the minimum government, maximum governance motto of our government," said Tomar. "This is being done to devolve more power to the states and expedite the process of mineral development in the country." States cannot lease out major minerals such as coal and iron ore without mandatory clearances from central ministries. High revenue earners, coal and iron ore, retain their positions as major minerals even after the policy shift.

The decision to broaden the list of minor minerals should drastically shorten the lease approval process because the state would be dealing with all the paperwork. Production should also increase. However, India could be treading on a minefield of environmental degradation if adequate protection measures are not taken.