NEW DELHI: Government will open up commercial mining of coal next fiscal and four dry fuel mines will go under the hammer in the first phase. "Next year (2017-18) in coal sector, we will allocate 25 mines. Of these 2 will be alloted and 23 will be auctioned, some for the coking coal and some for sectors other than power, like cement and four for commercial mining," Coal Secretary Susheel Kumar told reporter here. "We are preparing that plan of action but we will initiate that process and conclude it in the next financial year," he said.
Commercial mines are alloted without specifying the end use and allow private miners to sell the fuel to buyers across sectors such as power, cement and steel. "I don't think we need Cabinet approval (for auctioning commercial coal mines). We need our Minister's approval. We have prepared a discussion paper on commercial mining which will be put in public domain soon," Kumar said. A group of secretaries suggested recently that government create competition for state-run Coal India Ltd (CIL) by opening up commercial coal mining.
As per the the Coal Mines Special Provision Act of 2015, government can open up commercial coal mining for private players. On non-coal mines' auction, Mines Secretary Balvinder Kumar said: "We hope that nearly 250 minings area will be put to auction in coming year (2017-18) by the major mineral producing states." Among these, he said there are iron ore mining areas in Karnataka which were cancelled by the Supreme Court in category C mines.
Besides mining areas in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand would also be auctioned. Seven mining area are being put to auction in Karnataka. He said, "We have done auction of 21 mines and this year we have very ambitious project (auction plans) because we have nearly 200 mining areas, which have been cancelled/lapsed." On why these mines were cancelled, he said: "Two year period was given for executing the mining project but that period lapsed on January 11. Thus we will get 200 mining areas for auction this year 2017-18. Besides we have around 50 more mining areas (to be auctioned). There was inadequate response to auction of these mines (50)."