India's iron ore production has surged to 143 million tonnes (MT) in the first seven months of the ongoing fiscal, and the country is all set to surpass the record production of 246 MT achieved in 2019-20, Mines Secretary Alok Tandon said on Thursday.
The production of another key mineral, bauxite, has also witnessed a year-on-year increase in the April-October period of 2021-22, Tandon said during the International Mining Summit with the theme 'Towards a Responsible and Competitive Mining Industry' organised by industry body CII.
"During April to October that is seven months of 2021-2022, iron ore production of 143 million tonnes is not only 50 per cent jump from the production of 95.5 million tonnes in the corresponding year, it is also well on its way to surpass the record production of 246 MT achieved in 2019-20," he said.
India is a leading producer of minerals such as iron ore, zinc and bauxite that are considered to be critical for rapid industrial development. Yet the mining and quarrying sector contributes to about two per cent of the country's GDP.
Stating that the results of policy changes cannot be seen fully in a short span of time, he said, some early trends pertaining to mineral production are encouraging. The government has taken several measures, including legislative actions, to propel competitiveness in this sector and with the aim to increase its contribution to the national economy.
Besides, several measures have been directed towards the welfare of the people living around the mining areas and sustainability of the environment. "With results beginning to show, I find the theme of this conference to be apt in this contextual frame," he said.
In order to boost the competitiveness of the Indian mining industry and to increase social responsiveness, several policy reforms have been brought out in the last few years primarily through the amendments in the MMDR Act.
While certain amendments to the MMDR Act were taken in 2015 and 2020, to meet the changing needs of the mineral sector, the amendment to the Act this year was more wholesome as it was intended to provide a quick boost to mineral production and mineral availability and improve the ease of doing business. Meanwhile, impetus to exploration activity was provided through the setting up of the National Mineral Exploration Trust.
In the context of strengthening the social trust the amendment act of 2015 provides for establishing District Mineral Foundation (DMF) by the state governments in the districts affected by mining operations to take care of people affected by mining related activities. With regard to DMF, Tandon said "some good progress has been made".
DMFs have been set up in 600 districts in 22 states so far. The rules stipulate a payment of 30 per cent royalty towards DMF for mining leases granted prior to 2015 and 10 per cent of royalty for mining leases granted thereafter. "The amount of money collected in DMF so far is about Rs 55,000 crore," Tandon said.