India Approves Amendments to Promote Mineral Exploration

On July 12, the Indian government approved amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. These amendments aim to incentivize mineral exploration and development in the country, with a specific focus on minerals such as lithium, gold, silver, copper, and zinc. The changes mark the fifth amendment to the Act since 2014, demonstrating India’s commitment to tapping into its mineral resources.  

Boosting Lithium and Deep-Seated Minerals 

One of the key outcomes of the amended Act is the boost expected in the exploration and mining of lithium, which plays a crucial role in the electric vehicle (EV) era. Alongside lithium, the government aims to encourage exploration of deep-seated minerals such as gold, silver, copper, and zinc. These minerals hold significant economic and strategic importance, and their exploration and extraction will contribute to India’s resource independence and industrial growth. 

Exploration License Through Auction 

The amendments propose the granting of exploration licenses through auction for reconnaissance and prospecting operations. Unlike the conventional practice of the government defining exploration areas for auction, companies will now have the opportunity to suggest areas they want to explore. This move encourages private sector participation and enables companies to leverage their expertise and knowledge in identifying potential mineral-rich regions. 

Specified Minerals in the New Schedule 

The amended Act includes a new schedule that specifies minerals eligible for exploration and extraction. This includes copper, tellurium, selenium, lead, zinc, cadmium, indium, gold, silver, diamond, rock phosphate, apatite, potash, and elements of the rare earth group. The addition of these minerals in the schedule creates a transparent framework and provides clarity to potential investors and exploration companies. 

Promoting Private Sector Participation 

The amendments aim to incentivize private sector participation in mineral exploration, particularly in precious and critical minerals. Junior mining companies will have the opportunity to secure exploration rights based on available baseline survey data. They can then explore the designated area from the reconnaissance stage and progress towards full-scale mining operations. The changes also allow companies to transfer mineral concessions during the exploration period or upon the conclusion of exploration. 

Attracting Global Investment 

India’s mineral-rich potential is attracting attention on a global scale. Despite this, only 1% of the global budget for mineral exploration is spent in India. The recent amendments, along with their focus on precious and critical minerals, are expected to create an enabling environment for increased investment. This will not only boost the country’s mineral exploration activities but also contribute to job creation, technological advancements, and sustainable economic growth. 



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