The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 2, 2020. The Bill amends the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act), and the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 (CMSP Act). An Ordinance with similar provisions was promulgated on January 10, 2020.
The Lok Sabha had passed this Bill on March 6, 2020, and Rajya Sabha passed The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 on Mar 12, 2020.
The MMDR Act regulates the overall mining sector in India. The CMSP Act provides for the auction and allocation of mines whose allocation was canceled by the Supreme Court in 2014. Schedule I of the Act provides a list of all such mines; Schedule II and III are sub-classes of the mines listed in the Schedule I. Schedule II mines are those where production had already started then, and Schedule III mines are ones that had been earmarked for a specified end-use.
The Bill clarifies that the companies need not possess any prior coal mining experience in India in order to participate in the auction of coal and lignite blocks.
Bill adds a new type of license, called prospecting license-cum-mining lease. It will be a composite license providing for both prospecting and mining activities.
Bill provides that state governments can take advance action for auction of a mining lease before its expiry.
The Bill provides that the various approvals, licenses, and clearances given to the previous lessee will be extended to the successful bidder for a period of two years.
The Bill provides that prior approval of the central government will not be required by the state government in granting licenses for coal and lignite, in certain cases.
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