Incentivising Private Mineral Exploration: Government’s New Refund Scheme

Private mineral exploration companies now have a significant incentive to accelerate their operations as the Union Government introduces a scheme offering a 50% refund on exploration expenses. Aimed at boosting mineral availability, this scheme, launched by the mines ministry, provides partial reimbursement to licence holders in states like Goa and other major mineral mining regions.

Under this scheme, expenses incurred on various exploration activities qualify for reimbursement ranging from Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 10 crore, depending on the type of exploration. Geological mapping efforts are eligible for a maximum reimbursement of Rs 1.5 crore, while geophysical investigations can claim up to Rs 3 crore. For drilling, chemical analysis, research collaborations, and logistical exploration, reimbursement limits are set at Rs 10 crore, Rs 2.5 crore, and Rs 1.5 crore, respectively.

This initiative applies exclusively to notified exploration licence holders. Additionally, if these licence holders offer any G2 block for auction within three years and it is successfully auctioned for mining lease, they can receive reimbursement of up to 60% of their direct exploration costs, with a maximum ceiling increased by 20% on each expense item.

The scheme encompasses all minerals, with a focus on deep-seated and critical minerals. In March 2023, amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, allowed accredited private exploration companies specified under Section 4(1) to conduct exploration activities without a prospecting licence. This move aimed to expedite mineral block auctions by facilitating faster exploration by private entities, alongside government agencies like the Geological Survey of India.


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