The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015 (Act no. 10 of 2015) was enacted by the Parliament of India with the aim and object to amend the provisions of the Principal Act- The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (Act no. 67 of 1957). The Principal Act was enacted to govern the development and regulation of the mines and minerals in terms of the powers vested in the Central Government and the State Government were empowered to this effect under that Act. Moreover, that Principal Act was amended for several times from the year 1972. Thus, the present Amending Act is the recent Amending Act and it was firstly introduced on 24th day of February, 2015 in Lok Sabha and from there it was passed 3rd March, the same year and later on 20th day of the same month, it was cleared by the Rajya Sabha. The present Amending Act has, as such, received the assent from the President of India on 26th day of March, 2015.
It is further notable that in the year 2011, there was introduced the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011 which was to comprehensively amend the law governing the mineral sector. However, it could not survive and consequently refused to be passed before the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. Moreover, there have been seen numerous litigation in the past few years in the mining sector. Also some of the important judgements in this connection also have been pronounced by the Supreme Court. As such, the Principal Act was found somehow incompetent to deal with the auctioning of mineral concessions, which would improve transparency in allocation. And the Government will also be benefited with the increased share of the value of mineral resources. Moreover, there were also some provisions in the Principal Act which were considered to be addressed with quick decisions. Thus, with all such reasons and other more reasons, the Government has felt a need to address the immediate requirements of the mining sector and also to remedy the basic structure defects which will underlie the current impasse. Thus, the President has promulgated the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Ordinance, 2015. And as such, the present Act is brought to replace this Ordinance.
Thus, the present Amending Act is adding some supportive provisions along with the new Fourth Schedule to the Principal Act, which will include the bauxite, iron ore, limestone and manganese ore and notified minerals. Moreover, this Amending law has also added a new category of mining license which will be the prospecting license- cum- mining lease, which is a two stage- concession for the purpose of undertaking prospecting operations. Also, this amending Act is empowering the Central government to increase the area limits granted to a lessee for mining, instead of the earlier practice of providing additional leases. Moreover, it is also seeking to provide that the mining lease, in connection with all the minerals other than coal, lignite and atomic minerals, should be granted for a 50 year’s period and even the lease granted earlier to this amendment should also be valid for 50 years. And such lease, on an expiry, without being renewed, should be put up for auction. Also, the Amending Act is making provisions for the extensions of the lease which was granted before the Amending Act brought into operation, which will be up to 31st day of March, 2030 for minerals used for captive purpose and up to 31st March, 2020 for other minerals, or till the completion of renewal period or for the period of 50 years from the date of grant, whichever is later.
Also, this Amending Act is stating that the Governments shall grant mining leases and prospecting license- cum- mining leases for both notified and other minerals. Moreover, the holder of the mining lease or prospecting license- cum- mining lease can be transferred to the eligible person with the State Government’s approval and with the specification from the Central Government. Thus, these all and other amendments are sought with this present Amending Act.
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