The government plans to put on auction 17 mines surrendered by public sector undertakings which could not put the blocks into operation, Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi said on Tuesday.

The statement comes in the wake of the government making efforts to ramp up domestic coal production to ensure adequate availability of dry fuel to different sectors.

“Just the-day-before yesterday (Sunday) I got 17 blocks back and they are very good blocks and I am putting them for auction now,” Joshi said.

Speaking during a conference on the Indian minerals and metals industry organised by NMDC and FICCI, the minister said many PSUs in the country in sectors like coal were sitting on big mines.

The government decided to take away all those mines from the public sector undertakings which do not get into operation even after the lapse of five to six years and put them on sale.

“I talked to the chief ministers and ministers of a few states and asked them the reasons for sitting on mines. These mines could not get into operation even after 10 to 15 years,” Joshi said.

Joshi also said that his ministry was in deliberations with the Ministry of Environment and Forest on how the exploration of mines can happen without cutting down trees.

Through an amendment to MMDR Act in 2021, private exploration agencies which have been accredited are allowed to carry out exploration without prospecting licence upon their notification and so far nine private exploration agencies have been notified for this purpose.

In 2021-22, the total revenue accrued from auctioned mines is more than Rs 25,170 crore.

To be future-ready, the mines ministry, he said, is also exploring sources of minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, rare-earth elements, lead, zinc and others.

“With this view, I visited Australia last month to secure critical minerals that will help the country transition to clean sources of energy,” he added. PTI SID MR

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