Bhubaneswar: As the mineral industry is concerned about the lapse of many mining leases on March 31, 2020, Odisha Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick on Wednesday said that the state government is committed to complete mining auctions on time.

Over 300 non-captive mining leases across the country are lapsing on March 31, 2020. In Odisha alone, 24 working leases are going to lapse.

"Odisha government has already started the auction process for mineral blocks. Auction of three iron ore blocks, one manganese block, two chromite blocks and one graphite block has already been completed," said the Minister.

He was addressing the India Mining Conclave 2019, organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) here.

"Auction of another 31 mineral blocks is in the pipeline and notification for the same has already been issued. This auction process will be completed in a phased manner. Out of 31 blocks on offer, 27 blocks are of iron ore mines, two of graphite and two of manganese mines," the Minister said.

He also urged the mineral industry to use the latest technology in the exploration process and ensure the least damage to the environment and the ecosystem of the mining area.

Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy said, "Odisha is a steel hub and mining is an important Industry in the state. In a few months, there is a likely chance that mines can move from one operator to another. The government is trying to ensure that there is no disruption in mineral production."

Steel and Mines secretary R.K. Sharma said that the government has already started the process for fresh auction of mines with the sole intention of providing uninterrupted supply of raw material to the value addition industries.

Manish Kharbanda, Steel and Mines Committee convenor, ICC Odisha State Council, said commencement of production in mines after two years of allotment is not going to help the industry.

"For virgin mines it is still acceptable, but those mines, which are already in operation the production ramp up should be different. We urge both Centre and state government to make necessary arrangement," said Kharbanda.

He also highlighted the challenges related to the taxation, beneficiation and transportation issues of minerals.

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