The Government of India has recently launched the National Mineral Exploration Policy (NMEP) for Non Coal and Non Fuel minerals. The NMEP spells out the strategy and outlines the action plan of the government to ensure systematic, state of the art comprehensive exploration of India’s mineral resources.
The NMEP also proposes to involve private sector participation for unraveling new mineral deposits through state of the art technology. The government proposes to facilitate and incentivize private sector participation in Mineral Exploration so that the technical expertise, technological capability and financial resources of the private sector can be gainfully utilized in the discovery and exploitation of mineral resources.
NMEP envisages providing of free geo-scientific data on geology, geochemistry and geophysics to the public by the government thereby creating a platform for private sector government collaboration for the discovery of new mineral deposits which can be put up for auction.
Since all our near surface deposits have been explored and are already under exploitation, one of the major thrust areas of the NMEP would be to attract global participation to discover concealed and deep seated mineral deposits of diamond, gold, PEG, Nickel etc (300 to 1000 m) having no surface manifestations and requiring specialized knowledge and state of the art technology. For this purpose the government also proposes to set up the National Center for Mineral Targeting on Public Private Partnership to focus on optimizing mineral exploration efforts of the public and private sector
The Government will develop model contracting procedures and standard agreement templates for State Govt to engage private sector expertise. The Govt will keep provision for mitigating risks of the private companies in carrying out mineral exploration by working normative cost of exploration works for different minerals so that exploration companies could be compensated in case they do not discover any mine able reserves.
The NMEP is a positive step on the part of the Government to encourage and involve private sector participation to discover mineral deposits. Effective and whole hearted implementation will be the key to its success or otherwise it will remain just another policy of the government.
Before finalizing the NMEP, the Government wishes to consult as widely as possible all the stakeholders in this sector. There are several options amongst which choices have to be made. In order to facilitate informed and structured discussion, the Government have felt it necessary to place before the stakeholders a discussion paper that covers all the relevant issues.