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Centre launches 2nd round of critical mineral auction worth Rs 30 trillion

The inaugural round for the auction of critical minerals in the country commenced on November 29. The minister disclosed that over 180 potential bidders have procured the tender documents

mineral block, mining

Nitin Kumar New Delhi

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The Centre on Thursday launched the second round of auction for the 18 strategic mineral blocks valued at Rs 30 trillion, a move aimed at bolstering the country’s mineral supply chain.

“Last year, we decided to conduct auctions for critical minerals. In the initial phase, we initiated the auction process for 20 blocks, amounting to approximately Rs 40,000 crore in value. In the latest round, we are putting 18 blocks valued at around Rs 30 trillion up for auction,” Union Minister for Coal and Mines, Prahlad Joshi, said at the inauguration of the auction process.

The inaugural round for the auction of critical minerals commenced on November 29.

The minister said that over 180 potential bidders have procured the tender documents. The deadline for selecting the preferred bidder in the initial round is set for April 18.

Among the minerals on offer in the second round are cobalt, glauconite, graphite, nickel, platinum-group elements (PGE), phosphorite, potash, rare earth elements (REE), tungsten, and vanadium. These minerals are vital for sectors such as renewable energy, defense, and agriculture.

Of all the blocks being auctioned, 17 are designated for the grant of a composite license, while one mineral block is intended for the grant of a mining lease.

The minister announced that the third tranche will be initiated in the upcoming months, and said, “Following the establishment of the new government, we will commence the third tranche.”

“The auction of these mineral blocks aligns with India's objective of securing a critical mineral supply chain for energy transition and attaining its net-zero target by 2070. We are aiming to stop the import of these minerals,” Joshi added.

The minister said the auction will help states boost their revenues.

States are the biggest beneficiaries of mineral sector reforms.

Their earnings have grown manifold, with Odisha, for example, having seen a growth of 860 per cent in earnings from 2015-16 to 2022-23.

In these 8 years, Chhattisgarh’s earnings have increased by 620 per cent, Jharkhand’s by 425 per cent and Karnataka’s by 316 per cent, the minister said.

Joshi declared that alongside the ongoing mineral block auctions, the government has earmarked over 100 blocks containing 24 critical minerals slated for upcoming auctions anticipated in the near term.

He mentioned that the government aims to procure 240 reports on such critical mineral blocks. “I aim for 240 reports by next year,” he said.

With the proactive approach, the government aims to secure essential mineral resources and strengthen the nation's mineral supply chain, vital for achieving its developmental goals and ensuring economic sustainability.

The government also extended financial assistance of Rs 7 crore to five startups across Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh.

The initiative aims to validate critical mineral extraction processes and bolster entrepreneurship among youth.

By supporting these startups, the government aims to encourage innovation in the extraction and utilisation of essential minerals, thereby contributing to the country's economic growth and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship.

The Cabinet has also approved royalty rates for 12 more critical minerals, completing the rationalisation for all 24 critical minerals.

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First Published: Feb 29 2024 | 9:47 PM IST

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