Govt declassifies 31 major minerals; empowers state govts

The government has decided to declassify 31 minerals that are currently under the list of major minerals and notify them as minor minerals. A notification to this effect is expected soon, minister of steel and mines Narendra Singh Tomar said today.

''This is being done with the intention to devolve more power to the states, and consequently, expedite the process of mineral development in the country,'' Tomar said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 54th meeting of Central Geological Programming Board (CGPB) at Vigyan Bhawan today, the minister also announced that in order to strengthen the mineral inventory database of India, the government is planning to notify PSUs to carry out prospecting work.

Geological Survey of India (GSI), which has so far been only been proving broad oversight for mineral prospecting would now be full-fledged mineral exploration company, Thomar said.

He said the Geological Survey of India (GSI), which was hitherto involved in G3 and G4 level of prospecting, has plans to scale up prospecting operations to G1 and G2 levels, adding that the government may rope in additional agencies to carry out mineral prospecting work.

He said the regulatory and administrative jurisdiction of minor minerals falls under the purview of state governments and the decision would give more powers to state governments. These include the powers to frame rules, prescribe rates of royalty, contribution to District Mineral Foundation, the procedure for grant of mineral concessions etc.

These 31 minerals account for over 55 per cent of the total number of leases and nearly 60 per cent of total leased area.

Considering the extensive local outreach of states, this decision empowers them to customise regulatory framework to suit local conditions. This move is considered an important step in the fulfilment of 'Minimum Government, Maximum Governance' motto of the current government, the minister said. 

The list of 31 minerals to be notified as minor minerals include:

  • Agate,
  • Ball Clay,
  • Barytes,
  • Calcareous Sand,
  • Calcite,
  • Chalk,
  • China Clay,
  • Clay (others),
  • Corundum,
  • Diaspore,
  • Dolomite,
  • Dunite/pyroxenite,
  • Felsite,
  • Felspar,
  • Fireclay,
  • Fuschite Quartzite,
  • Gypsum,
  • Jasper,
  • Kaolin,
  • Laterite,
  • Limekankar,
  • Mica,
  • Ochre,
  • Pyrophyllite,
  • Quartz,
  • Quartzite,
  • Sand (others),
  • Shale,
  • Silica sand,
  • Slate,
  • Steatite/Talc/Soapstone.

Tomar urged geologists and state representatives to decide time-frames for completion of each activity.

''After agriculture, mining is the second largest employer in the country. Since India is the largest youth nation across the globe, endowed with immense mineral potential, we must use our strengths to take India ahead on the competitiveness graph,'' the minister said underscoring the employment potential of mining sector.

The CGPB is a platform of the GSI in which its annual programme is finalised. It includes representatives from central and state governments, exploration agencies and PSUs, among others.

The annual survey, exploration and training programme of GSI for the next financial year is finalized on the basis of the priorities set by government and the importance and urgency of proposals presented by the members and stakeholders.