Government Cancels Auction of 14 Critical Minerals, Launches Fourth Tranche

The Ministry of Mines has launched the fourth tranche of e-auction for critical and strategic minerals, offering concessions for 21 mineral blocks, even as it canceled the auction of 14 mineral blocks from the second tranche.

The ministry attributed the cancelation due to poor response. In February, the ministry issued the second tranche to grant concessions for 18 critical and strategic mineral blocks across eight states, with 17 designated for composite licenses and one for a mining lease.

According to a notice on the MSTC website, five of these 14 blocks received no bids. The auction for the other nine blocks was annulled due to fewer than three technically qualified bidders. The list of canceled blocks is as follows:

The ministry also announced the preferred bidders for the six blocks auctioned in the first tranche:

In the fourth tranche, 11 newly available blocks are located across Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. They include minerals such as graphite, glauconite, phosphorite, potash, nickel, platinum group elements, phosphate, and rare earth elements.

Ten blocks are from previous tranches, up for a second attempt. These are located in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. They contain minerals like tungsten, vanadium, graphite, glauconite, cobalt, and nickel.

Reimbursement of Exploration Expenses

The ministry has also introduced a program to partially reimburse exploration expenses for exploration license holders. Under this program, up to 50% of exploration costs, with a maximum of ₹200 million (~$2.4 million), will be reimbursed. This provision, introduced through an amendment in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act in 2023, aims to encourage junior mining companies to participate in exploration auctions and strengthen the exploration ecosystem in the country.

The ministry awarded certificates to two newly notified private exploration agencies. The total number of notified private exploration agencies has risen to 22 with these new additions.

A total of 20 blocks for exploration licenses have been handed over to various states and union territories, including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Karnataka and Rajasthan are the first states to notify the auction of exploration licenses, with nine auctions currently notified by various states.

Union Minister G Kishan Reddy announced that the ministry has planned to launch the first tranche of auction of offshore mineral blocks within 100 days of the new government assuming office.

In March, the ministry unveiled the third tranche of e-auction for critical and strategic minerals, granting concessions for seven mineral blocks across five states. These blocks, located in Bihar, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir, included minerals such as glauconite, graphite, nickel, PGE, potash, lithium, and titanium.

The first tranche was launched on November 2023, which saw the auction of 20 critical and strategic mineral blocks, including minerals like glauconite, nickel, platinum group elements, potash, graphite, molybdenum, phosphorite, lithium, and rare earth elements.


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