To promote lawful mining, the Rajasthan Government has introduced amendments to the Rajasthan Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2017 (“The Minor Mineral Concession Rules”), which would improve transparency, and increase state revenue. The announcement of easing the rules under an amendment dated 5th August 20221 was included in the Ashok Gehlot administration’s 2022–23 Budget Speech.2 The amendment’s goal is to stimulate Rajasthan’s economy and to promote environmentally friendly and scientific mineral mining
- Area of mining lease, and quarry license
- Period of mining lease, and quarry license
- Prerequisites for e–auction of mineral concession
- Granting of mining lease, and quarry license
- Transfer of mineral concession
Area of mining lease, and quarry license
Under rule 7 of the Minor Mineral Concession Rules, the minimum area for a grant of mining lease for river sand is 5 hectares, and for other minerals – it should be 1 hectare. This condition does not apply to lands between two or more mining permits, or to lands that border a forest or other protected area. The area adjacent to a mining lease that is not a gap area and is smaller than 1 hectare shall be awarded as a strip of land and added to the adjoining existing mining lease upon the lessee’s application to the relevant Mining Engineer/Assistant Mining Engineer.
Under rule 8 of the Minor Mineral Concession Rules, the area adjacent to a quarry license that is not a gap area and is smaller than 0.18 hectares must be awarded as a strip of land and added to the adjoining quarry license upon application by the licensee to the relevant Mining Engineer/Assistant Mining Engineer.
Period of mining lease, and quarry license
Under rules 9, and 10 of the Minor Mineral Concession Rules, the period of mining leases/quarry licenses of minor minerals will be extended from March 31, 2025, to March 31, 2040, subject to payment of a certain premium, provided that an online application has been submitted to the relevant Mining Engineer/Assistant Mining Engineer, with a fee of Rs. 10,000.
Prerequisites for e-auction of mineral concession
To conduct an e-auction of mineral concession, it is mandatory to get an identification and demarcation (categories: forest land, charagah land, and government land) by the Government for the area where the mineral concession is proposed. This should be implemented via a global positioning system or global navigation satellite system.
Granting of mining lease
Under rule 16 of the Minor Mineral Concession Rules, the limit of 4 hectares for small mineral mining permits on khatedari land would be removed to promote safe and responsible mining. Such registration is possible without environmental authorization; however, mining will not begin until environmental authorization is obtained.
Transfer of mineral concession
Under rule 27 of the Minor Mineral Concession Rules, instead of ten times the dead rent/license price, the premium on the transfer of mining leases for minor minerals would now be five times the dead rent/license fee, up to Rs 5 lakh. Online returns can be filed every quarter.
WAY FORWARD: IMPLICATIONS OF THE AMENDMENT
The reduction of renewal fees for mining lessees and quarry licensees will improve state government revenue. Furthermore, leaseholders would be authorized to mine only after getting environmental clearance, promoting an environmentally responsible mining strategy. Previously, mine registration required environmental approval. The Amendment Act prohibits the revival of an expired mining lease. As a result, the holder of the mining lease must apply to the State Government before the mining lease expires. This will improve system transparency.
These improvements will be required if mine owners and operators are to carefully analyze, successfully manage, and guide the mining industry into a new century. The amendment’s goal is to boost employment, boost the mining industry’s contribution to the GDP of the State, and attract investments. However, it will be interesting to see how long the new system lasts. Furthermore, it avoids the time-consuming procedure of getting clearances for the same mine regularly and ensures that mining operations will continue even if the lessee changes as reapplying for the same licenses takes a long time, and this change will speed up the start of mining operations.
Finally, the compulsory auction provisions, lease term extensions, and presumptive transfer permission are significant elements that will limit the State’s discretion. The effective implementation of the modifications should boost stability and efficiency in mining operations, as well as transparency in resource allocation.