As per the above notifications, the private mining lessees for beach sand minerals will have to relinquish their rightful mining leases. No fresh mining lease could be granted for beach sand minerals, for any private players. The Vision of the National Mineral Policy (NMP), 2019, is while the Government Agencies will continue to perform the tasks assigned to them, for Survey and Exploration, whereas the Private Sector would be encouraged to take up Exploration activities. The aim is to promote Domestic industry, to reduce Import Dependency and to feed into Make in India initiative. Moreover the MoM Notifications GSR 126(E) DT. 19.02.2019 and GSR 134(E) DT. 20.02.1019 are totally deviating, contrary and conflict, to the Vision of NMP 2019.
National Mineral Policy, 2019, insists that the regulatory environment is conducive, to ease of doing business with simpler, transparent and time-bound procedures, for obtaining clearances. Since mining contributes significantly to state revenues, there is a need for an efficient regulatory mechanism with high penetration of e-governance systems. Mining contributes significantly to employment generation, thus, there shall be a keen focus on gender sensitivity in the mining sector at all levels. But the above notification is completely against the National Mineral Policy, 2019, notified by the MoM, Government of India.
There is a rumor that, the above said notifications are issued in order to take action against, Illegal Mining complaints against Private Mining Lessees. It is pertinent to point out here that, there are several procedures to penalise and punish the illegal miners, in accordance with the law and in case, if the lessee is punished, then automatically the leases will get terminated. Whereas in this case, only based on the complaints, these Notifications were issued. This is absolutely against the National Interest.
Due to business rivalry, the complaints were framed by a section of people, allegation against all other Private Beach Mineral mining lessees. In several occasions, the State and Central Govt. Authorities carried out Inspections, along with Executive Magistrates and submitted Inspection Reports that, the alleged complaints are false and baseless. Such Inspection Reports are readily available in Ministry of Mines file number 16/90/2007-M.VI (Part-IV) and 16/13/2013-M.VI. The Tamil Nadu State Govt. vide their letter No. 7810/MMD2/2011-1 dated 23.07.2013, also sent the Detailed Report stating that, all the complaints are False and the allegations were made, only with Business Rivalry.
It is pertinent to point out here that, from the year 2013 onwards, the entire mining operations were stopped and the lessees are permitted only to process the existing mined minerals stocks. So, the present Notification is absolutely unwarranted and unjustified.
Our Country have significant Reserves of Ilmenite, Garnet and Monazite containing Rare Earths (Table 1), but these Resources remain grossly under-utilized with the Production to Reserve Ratio (PRR) being a meager of 0.0018%, when compared to Global PRR of 0.01%. India is stuck in this paradox and must leverage its plentiful Resources, to transform into a major Global Producer.
|Reserves in India
|Percentage share of Global Reserves|
Table 1 – (*Indian figures are based on AMD, Hyderabad Report. **World figures are based on USGS Report for the year 2013)
Beach Sand Minerals and their Derivatives find Diverse Applications, in day to day use as well as, Strategic and High-tech Applications. With proper Encouragement and Recognition from the Government for the BSM sector, this could be a Mega Opportunity, for a successful “Mine In India” and “Make In India” Programmes.
The BSM Sector was brought under the controlled regime, due to the presence of the mineral Monazite. It is pertinent to note that until 1998, this sector was restricted only to Public Sector Companies and it was observed, there was no Substantial Developments in the country. Recognizing the untapped Potential of the Beach Sand Minerals sector, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) announced the Policy on Exploitation of Beach Sand Minerals in 1998 and opened up this sector to wholly Indian Owned Private Companies. This brought participation and Significant Investments in the Country by Private Sector Companies. Since the Entry of the Private Sector in the BSM Industry, the Production of Beach Sand Minerals has substantially increased and the Export Value has increased from Rs. 35 Crores in 1998 to over Rs 5000 Crores in 2016. The Private Sector Producers have spearheaded not only Mineral Production, but also invested in the Value Chain.
The current Estimated Production and Demand figures for the Minerals and Value-Added Products of Ilmenite (Table 2) amplify the incongruity in Domestic Production, despite ample Resource Potential.
|Mineral/ Product||Indian production (lakh tons)||Indian Demand (lakh tons)||World Production (lakh tons)||World Demand (lakh tons)||Average Growth Rate / Year||India Scenario|
|Rare Earths||Negligible||RE products imported||1.7||1.6||5-10%||Importer|
Table 2 (* These figures are estimated based on the production figures available with the producers worldwide and port statistics on import and export of the minerals and their products when it was at the peak).
It is a pity to mention that the present “Make in India” Government is driving this BSM Sector, by Importing our requirements and ignoring all the Financial, Technical and Managerial Resources, which are indigenously and cheaply available.
The fall out of the notifications will be as follows:
- Foreign Investors will loose their faith over our nation for investment, as these Notifications amounts to termination of existing Mining Leases also. So, they feel insecurity to invest in India.
- The Beach Sand Policy of 1998, invited Private Sectors to participate and make Investments in the mining, mineral separation and value addition to Ilmenite. Pursuant to this Policy, Private Miners made significant Investments, which amounts to acquire Mining licenses and set up Mineral Separation facilities (with huge investments). Private miners thus not only enhanced the growth of the mineral sands industry, by earning significant foreign exchange of more than Rs. 3,000 Crores per year through exports, but also provided direct and indirect employment for more than one lakh persons. Thus the participation of Private Miners in the BSM Industry, has created a significant impact in socio economic development of the regions, which were otherwise very backward.
- Private miners have also made significant investments in Value Addition of Ilmenite Mineral, for Production of Titanium-di-oxide by meeting part of the India’s Domestic need and reducing the Import burden.
- Before entry of the Private Players, these Garnet sand were dumped into the sea, as rejects by the Government Companies.
- It is pertinent to point out here that, before the entry of Private Players, our Country was far behind in achieving the Garnet Production and Export, among the world. After entry of Private Players, India became No.1 Producer and Exporter of Garnet. The achievement is well published in Roskil International magazine with graphical representation.
- Because of these Notifications, the 30 years earned World Market by Indian Producers, will be lost forever which could not be regained by Indian producers in future.
- Our Country will permanently loose the foreign exchange earnings, of more than Rupees 3,000 Crore per year.
- Indian Titanium producers will be bound to import the raw material from the overseas countries, when we are already blessed with abundant resources of 1/3rd of the total world reserve. (Please refer DAE, Joint Secretary Speech and High Level Committee report of Nidhi Aayog.)
- These minerals are Replenishable Beach Placer deposits. Unless it is not utilized within a stipulated time, it will become a National Waste and there is possibility for these minerals getting shifted to neighbor countries. These minerals get deposited by the action of wind, will be used for domestic purpose and once that is shifted to neighbor country, which is loss to our Nation and the State.
- Our Indian Private Mining Companies has made huge investments, to Upgrade Quality of Products, to meet the International standards, by which India has gained No.1 Position in the Global Garnet Market, continuously for the past 10 years. Now, these Notifications will reverse our Nation’s No.1 Position.
- The allegations and illegal mining complaints about BSM Industry were raised from the year 1997 onwards. Meanwhile all the complaints were proved as False and Baseless, by the State Government Officials, the Central Government officials, the Joint Inspection team and the Honourable High court and as well as the Government Authorities. Now only one PIL is pending with the Honourable High Court of Madras for long time, since the petitioners could not be able to produce, valid documentary evidence to support for illegal mining. As such there was no illegal mining happened, the case is pending before the Court. For example : One of our association member M/s. V.V. Mineral has paid royalty for 98 Lakhs of M.Tons and transported the same with valid transport permit, where as they have exported only about 52 Lakhs of M.Tons of heavy minerals. How this can be proved that illegal mining was happened?? In case the illegal mining is proved and then the concerned Private mining company is ready to, get penalised under section 21 of MMDR Act.
- Already a request was made to the Department of Atomic Energy, to facilitate posting of their officials, in all the Sea Ports, for carrying out Inspection & Cross Examination, for Radioactive materials if any, in the Beach Sand Minerals prior to Export. The DAE Minutes held on 15.07.2013 will establish the same.
- All sea ports and airports were well equipped with latest Gadgets and equipments to monitor the movement of Radioactive Material and the equipments are inter-linked with sufficient number of Police Stations. Hence, it is not at all possible for export of any Radioactive Material. The reply to Parliament (Lok shaba) question No. 896 dated 20.12.2017 will establish the same.
- The set up already made by Private Miners, towards Value addition of the mineral Ilmenite has to be either closed down or import Ilmenite at higher cost. Perhaps, this will make their product uncompetitive compared to the titanium dioxide product imported from China.
- Beach Sand Mineral mining is Eco-friendly mining. It provides, huge number of employment, for both uneducated people and as well as educated people. In the beach mineral industries of Tamil Nadu, more than one lakh people get employment, through our association members. Being this area located in rain shadow area, agriculture activity or any other Industry were not developed. Whereas, the BSM Industries help these area people to live their life happily. Now, they are lost their jobs and starving for their day to day activities. In fact this has affected the education of many children and children have lost their education, due to the parents who lost their job from these Beach Sand Mineral Industry.
- We are proud to express that one of our Indian Private Beach Sand Mineral Producer have achieved, to make our India to reach No. 1 position in Producer and Exporter of Garnet Mineral and as well as to reach No. 2 position in Producer and Exporter of Ilmenite, in the world. However, by these Notifications, our country will loose the above credit.
- The main moto of National Mineral Policy and MMDR Act, for Exploration of Minerals by Government Agencies with the aid of NMET and subsequent Exploitation of Minerals by Private Sectors. But the latest MoM Notifications, totally deviating form the Policy and not having any relation or reference to the Policy. It will also have remarkable impact on Investments made by existing Private Mining Companies, Marketing network that developed in the past 3 decades, Millions of Foreign Exchange Revenue to our Nation, Employment Opportunities to thousand of people. Moreover, this will ease the Foreign Companies to utilize this golden opportunity, against the Indian Private Mining companies in the International Market. Thus our Indian Companies reputation will get spoiled in the International Market, which can not be regained, in the next 40 years.
- The aim of the National Mineral Policy, 2019 is to “Encourage Extraction of the Replenishable Deposits of Beach Sand Minerals for improved economic growth”. Whereas, these Notifications are irrelevant and extraneous to the National Mineral Policy, 2019.
- The efficient and trained manpower in the BSM industry will become obsolete. Perhaps, their expertise and experience will not have any value in the new filed.
- These Beach Sand Minerals and their derivative products, which have major Applications in Manufacturing, Electronics, Medical, Clean Energy and Defense have significant Market Demand and Revenue Generation Potential in today’s Economic Scenario. This opportunity to beneficially use these Resources may be lost as technological innovations look for alternate and substitute materials which will render these Mineral Resources of no value in the long term. This will be a National Loss and Poor utilization of the Country’s Natural Resources.
- The Capital and Infrastructural facilities set up by these Private Mining Companies will also become infructuous and they are forced to end up in huge losses to an approximate value of more than 10,000 crores of rupees as the investments become useless, due to these Impugned
- The Final Products and also the Semi Processed Minerals, having worth of hundreds of crores of rupees, will become useless, resulting in huge financial losses to the Private Mining Companies .
This drastic action, will totally eliminate the Private Sector from Beach Sand Minerals Industry. This action is similar to cutting off the hand, in order to cure the wound in the finger.
Flouting of Procedures in the Mining Sector, is not a new thing our country and the issues need to be resolved, by stringent control and not by total eradication of Private Mining operation. It may be noted that similar flouting of rules, in the Iron Ore Mining Sector were resolved peacefully. Hence similar steps need to be taken in this BSM sector also and Private sectors may be allowed to participate in Mining and Mineral Separation of BSM, for development of the Nation.
It is pertinent to point out here that, all over the world, Monazite is easily available and there is no demand for that. Only difference is In India the Monazite is available in better quality. So the Govt. Company, itself stopped their Monazite production w.e.f. 2004. Reply of Parliament question 420 dated 26.11.2014 will establish the same. Moreover, all over the world, none of the country including India, use Thorium available in Monazite for any purpose as, it is not a fissile material. But research is going on in India to use it in 3rd Stage Nuclear Programme may be after 2050 only. Even now also, Monazite cannot not be exported as, it is in the negative list and storage of monazite tailings either by way of back filling or stored in separate trenches under the institutional control of Government, is managed by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) in accordance with the law.
We have no objection to take stringent action against illegal miners in accordance with law. But completely stoppage of Private Beach Mineral Producers will amounts our nation will lose valuable Foreign Exchange, Trust Worthiness for Investment, Revenue to the State and Employment Opportunity. Above all this amounts to loss of the naturally deposited Mineral Wealth.