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Govt considering changes in MMDR Act to revive mining: Vishnu Deo Sai, MoS
To revive the mining sector, especially iron ore, to cater the huge infrastructure development programme, the budget has set before the government; it would present amendments to the MMDR Act in the Parliament, said Minister of State for Mines, Steel, Labour and Employment Vishnu Deo Sai today at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi.

To revive the mining sector, especially iron ore, to cater the huge infrastructure development programme, the budget has set before the government; it would present amendments to the MMDR Act in the Parliament, said Minister of State for Mines, Steel, Labour and Employment Vishnu Deo Sai today at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi.

This assurance to the mining industry came from the Minister of State for Mines, Steel, Labour and Employment Vishnu Deo Sai at the "India Mining Summit" organized by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) here today at New Delhi. He pointed out, "but these changes would also take into consideration environment concerns".

"The changes to the Act would aim at placing the industry on a sure and long term footing that would include mines plants, railway and port connectivity and other logistics. He said the emphasis would also be on new technology which because of high costs of it would have to be sought if necessary through joint ventures with foreign enterprises," said the minister.

The Minister admitted that the expectations from the Minerals Mines Development and Regulation Act (MMDR Act) and the National Mineral Policy (NMP) had not been realized. The problems faced by the sector had prevented the inflow of foreign direct investment into this sector. At the same time, the sector was facing allegations of large scale illegal mining, theft of royalty due to the state and lack of technology up gradation.

"In addition local community resistance to mining and the judiciary orders for investigation into various allegations and concerns also depressed investment sentiment. At the same time mineral prices globally had risen steeply affecting other projects in industry and construction within the country", said the Minister.

Calling for a change in public perception on the impact of mining on environment, Ministry of Mines Secretary Dr. Anup K Pujari said, the ignoring of technological and other changes that reduced the impact on environment were being ignored and the sector over-regulated.

This resulted in preventing flow of FDI despite the huge opportunity in increasing mineral output in the country. He disclosed that the government was making inter-ministerial efforts in preventing illegal mining and consequent revenue losses.

Dr. Pujari further revealed that in Kudremukh iron ore mines area it was found after a study that nature itself was enabling re-forestation of the mined area to the extent of 75% over the last ten years. "With the application of best technology available, mining would still be able to regenerate the green cover over the affected land", the Secretary asserted.

Speaking at the meeting, Suresh Prabhu, Chairman, Advisory Group for Integrated Development of Power, Coal and Renewable Energy suggested to provide a larger share of the mining revenue to the local community. Mining sector should interact with local community to devise systems to meet its concerns.

He referred to the Australian experience where large scale mining was achieved with high environment compatibility.

Tom Albanese, Global CEO, Sesa Sterlite said while addressing the conference, "a robust, well administrated and competitive fee and performance based licensing system for prospecting include an open and transparent, live, nationwide tenure tracking system. He said, "A tenure, taxation and royalty system for mining that is an exclusive right for the explorer."

Jamil Hares, Dy. Minister of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP), Islamic Republic of Afghanistan said, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum has commenced a process where qualified investors will have a unique opportunity to secure access to a number of promising mineral and energy projects.

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