New Delhi: On Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha successfully passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, legislation that promotes private sector involvement in mineral exploration, including a valuable resource like lithium. The Lok Sabha had previously approved the bill on July 28, completing the legislative process in Parliament. Once granted the President’s consent, the bill will officially become law.
A key reform introduced by the bill pertains to the introduction of exploration licenses for deep-seated and crucial minerals. Minerals like gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, nickel, cobalt, platinum group minerals, and diamonds, which are located deep within the earth’s surface, pose challenges and high costs for exploration. The proposed exploration licences aim to encourage and incentivize private sector engagement in the exploration of such critical and deep-seated minerals.
During the proceedings on August 1, members of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A) staged a dramatic walkout from the Rajya Sabha after their request for an extensive discussion on the Manipur issue in the presence of the Prime Minister went unanswered by Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar.
Amidst these disruptions, various bills were successfully passed, including the Mediation Bill, 2021, and the Biological Diversity Amendment Bill, 2023, in the Rajya Sabha, and the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023, in the Lok Sabha. Additionally, the no-confidence motion against the government, which was admitted in the Lok Sabha last week, is scheduled for discussion between August 8 and 10.
The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, also encompasses provisions to remove six minerals from the list of 12 atomic minerals. These minerals, with applications in space, electronics, communications, energy, and electric batteries, play a pivotal role in India’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions.
Previously reserved for government entities due to their categorization as atomic minerals, the bill’s removal of these minerals from the list will pave the way for private sector participation in their exploration and mining. Moreover, the bill empowers the central government to conduct exclusive auctions for mining leases and composite licences pertaining to specific critical minerals.