Chhattisgarh to put 10 mines for auction

Elated with the success of the first phase of the auction held in February this year, Chhattisgarh government has decided to put 10 more mines carrying limestone and bauxite deposits for auction.

Of the 10 mines, eight contain limestone deposits, and the remaining two are bauxite mines. In February this year, the state government had auctioned four mines, including three limestone and one gold mine. The state exchequer had garnered Rs 4000 crore through the auction.

Under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015, that came into force last year, states have been powered to auction iron ore and non-coal mineral mines. Prior to this, state governments would allocate mines. But in a bid to bring in transparency, companies now have to acquire mines through competitive bidding.

“The department has started the process and is completing the formalities at the Centre level,” a senior official with the mining department told Business Standard.

While limestone mines have been located in Raipur and Balodabazar districts, bauxite mines have been discovered in Sarguja area. The new limestone and bauxite mines are crucial for the state’s industrial growth. Chhattisgarh has seven cement plants with all leading cement manufacturers of India having facilities in the state. The new limestone mines will create expansion opportunities for cement companies already present and give new players a chance to invest in the state.

The Vedanta-controlled Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (Balco) will be eyeing the bauxite mines that will be put up for auction. The company is planning to enhance its aluminium production capacity in Korba facility to one million tonne per annum.

The bauxite deposits in Sarguja’s Mainpath and Kawardha are fast depleting and will last for just three more years. The company is also looking for bauxite deposits in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.

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