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Union Cabinet okays blueprint for mining sector reforms

Thursday, 14 Jan 2021
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The Union Cabinet has approved a blueprint for facilitating reforms in the mining sector. This includes amending Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act 1957, clarifying doubt on double taxation, rationalising stamp duty and developing the National Mineral Index beside others.

The entire blueprint is to be presented in Parliament during forthcoming Budget Session, starting 27 January 2021.

A panel will be formed to examine the issue of double taxation. In the current statutory framework, royalty is included in Average Selling Price (ASP) of minerals and then it is computed on ad valorem basis leading to double taxation.

There is a proposal to amend the Indian Stamp Act 1899 to bring uniformity in stamp duty calculation in various states.

One proposal is related to developing the National Mineral Index (NMI). Presently, ASP is the basis for calculating various statutory payments, which is subject to distortions due to the absence of sale price data for some minerals, differences in prices across states, etc.

It is proposed to introduce an index-based mechanism by developing a National Mineral Index (NMI) for various statutory payments and others for future auctions.

The amendment will help substituting ‘mining operations’ with ‘production and dispatch’, which in turn operationalise many mines. There will be charges on the extension of mining leases for government companies. These charges are proposed to create a level playing field and bring uniformity in the sector.

A proposal has been tabled to remove the distinction between captive and merchant mines. This will facilitate captive mines to sell up to 50 percent of the minerals excavated during the current year. Based on the coal sector experience, it is proposed to provide 50 percent rebate in the quoted revenue share, for the quantity of mineral produced and dispatched earlier than the scheduled date of production.

PSUs can facilitate production from those working mines auctioned in March 2020, which could not start production even after the transfer of valid rights, clearances, etc.

It has been proposed to amend District Mineral Fund (DMF) to facilitate spending the corpus on people living in directly affected areas. A local Member of Parliament (MP) will be a member of DMF Governing Council. It is also proposed that there will not be any charges on transfer of mineral concessions for non-auctioned captive mines.

The government will also make efforts to simplify the exploration regime. Despite the vast mineral potential, exploration activities are abysmally low in the country.

Out of the total Obvious Geological Potential (OGP) area of 0.571 million sq km, only 10 percent of the area has been explored so far, and mining is carried out in 1.5 percent of the OGP area.

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