Mining industry prepares for boom

Rajesh Unnikrishnan, Asian Age, 7 January 2004 :

Mumbai, Jan. 6: Large scale mining projects of corporates like Rio Tinto, De Beers, Deccan Gold Mines and BHP Billiton are set to take off as the ministry of environment and forest has simplified various guidelines for mining and other exploration works in the forest areas.

It is considered that around 10 mining projects of these companies were in limbo due to lack of clarity in the forest ministry guidelines. According to the ministry’s amended guidelines, mining and exploration projects are exempted from taking permission for conducting their respective surveys as long as these do not involve clearing of forest land, cutting trees and operations are restricted to clearing of bushes and lopping of tree branches for purpose of sighting.

Similarly, mining has also been exempted from seeking permission under the Forest Act for investigations and survey purposes.

The decision will help a lot of corporates that are actively involved in exploration. The amendments were passed by the ministry of environment and forests on October 20, 2003.

Earlier, the exploration companies involved had to wait for months to get a clearance from the ministry to commence their respective projects for exploration and mining.

“This is a very positive move coming from the ministry as this will help make our task real easy in exploring various possibilities of discovering gold,” said Mr. Sandeep Lakhwara, Managing Director and CEO of Deccan Gold Mines Limited.

The company’s three projects faced delays due to ambiguity in the ministry guidelines. According to mining industry sources, India is rich in mineral resources. Intensive exploration activities requiring vast amounts of capital and expertise are required to unlock this richness.