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Government Plans Slew of Reforms in Mining Sector

This would be a major reform that would allow companies such as Tata, Vedanta, JSW to commercially sell out

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Government, Reforms, Mining
Instead, a new hybrid mining lease agreement would be framed under which companies would be free to use extracted mineral both for captive use. Pixabay

The government plans a slew of reforms in the mining sector, including giving a big push to commercial mining to help attract investment and improve mineral production in the country.

As part of this, highly placed sources said the government would discontinue the practice of offering mining rights for mineral resources, including coal, to companies for captive use. Instead, a new hybrid mining lease agreement would be framed under which companies would be free to use extracted mineral both for captive use of end use plants (power, steel, cement etc) and commercial sale in the open market.

This would be a major reform that would allow companies such as Tata, Vedanta, JSW to commercially sell out from their captive iron ore mines for higher gains. State-owned SAIL has already been permitted to commercially sell iron ore from its captive mines.

A high level committee headed by NITI Aayog vice chairman and having top representation from ministries of finance, mines, coal and environment, has suggested that all mines hence forth be auctioned for commercial production. For companies taking mines largely for captive use, 50 per cent of production from those mines would be permitted to be sold in the open market under the new hybrid lease agreement.

Government, Reforms, Mining
As part of this, highly placed sources said the government would discontinue the practice of offering mining rights for mineral resources, including coal, to companies for captive use. Pixabay

Sources said the government has accepted these recommendations and necessary changes in mineral laws would be made to allow the reform measures to take shape.

“Captive mining rights do not result in optimal extraction of mineral resources, making the activity uneconomic. Often companies with captive leases are forced to contain production as extra production would cause loss of revenue to them in the absence of commercial selling right for surplus production. Thus, a hybrid agreement will allow full potential of mineral block to be realised and also help both the Centre and the state to increase their earnings,” said a former head of Coal India Ltd asking not to be named.

The high level committee has suggested that changes in grant of mineral rights with the option to do both captive and commercial mining may be applied prospectively for all exploration and mining activities. In addition to extraction of main mineral, the hybrid model will also allow leaseholders to extract other minerals found in their mine lease area on payment of 10 per cent of the quoted revenue share for the main mineral.

For existing captive mines allocated before the auction mechanism was made mandatory for grant of mineral leases, the high level committee has suggested the companies can use surplus mineral in their new end-use units formed under a joint venture agreement with a minimum 26 per cent shareholding.

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Mining has been identified as a critical activity that needs a big push to help other capital intensive and employment generating industries. The sector is braving a slowdown that has seen declining investment and production. (IANS)

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Spying Charges On 2 Ex-Twitter Employees for Saudi Arabia

2 former twitter employees were charged with spying for Saudi Arabia

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Spying for Saudi Arabia
Two former Twitter employees have been charged with spying for the Saudi Arabia government. Pixabay

Raising concerns that American technology firms might be exposed to foreign governments, two former Twitter employees have been charged with spying for the Saudi Arabia government and the Kingdom’s royal family, according to the US Justice Department.

The two former Twitter staffers, Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi national and Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen, used their access at the micro-blogging giant to gather sensitive and non-public information on dissidents of the Saudi regime, the Justice Department said in a criminal complaint.

The case, unsealed in San Francisco federal court, underscores allegations the Saudi government tries to control anti-regime voices abroad. It also recalls a move reportedly directed by the country’s controversial leader to weaponise online platforms against critics, CNN Business reported on Thursday.

Spying
A US citizen, used their access at the micro-blogging giant to gather sensitive and non-public information on dissidents of the Saudi regime. Pixabay

One of the two people is reportedly an associate of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — who the CIA has concluded likely ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year.

“The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter’s internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users,” US Attorney David Anderson said in a statement.

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Another man, named Ahmed Almutairi, who is also from Saudi Arabia, allegedly acted as a go-between to the two Twitter staffers and the Saudi government, which according to the complaint rewarded the men with hundreds of thousands of dollars and, for one man, a luxury Hublot watch, the report added. (IANS)