Gujarat needs to formulate a comprehensive state mineral policy, a report titled, ‘Gujarat Mining Potential’, prepared by the Confederation

of Indian Industry (CII), has stated. The policy was needed to provide clear communication about the government’s stand about minerals and mining sector, the report indicated. Gujarat should lay emphasis on export-oriented value-added activities by packaging the incentives currently offered to export oriented units (EOUs) such as tax holidays and export promotion capital goods (EPCG) scheme. The state government should ensure speedy disposal of applications. “The laws stipulate specific timeframes for approving reconnaissance permit, prospecting licence and mining lease. However, the actual time taken for approval usually exceeds these. The state government needs to address this issue at the earliest and incorporate necessary systems and procedures in the mineral policy that needs to be formulated as recommended,” stated the report. “At the outset it is worth noting that the mineral portfolio of Gujarat is fundamentally, somewhat different from the mineral portfolio of the other large mineral producing state of eastern India since coal and iron ore, which dominates India’s mineral portfolio, are absent in Gujarat. The state should move up the value chain in mineral industry by focussing on value addition to the minerals mined,” said Nitin Shukla, chairman of CII’s Gujarat Council. The report said Gujarat should contemplate a shift from a ‘passive approach’ to active approach to exploit the potential of mineral resources to the full. “Under the existing system, prospective miners have to take the initiative for certain basic activites like, land ownership records, ascertaining mineral reserves etc. for which he has to approach different authorities before obtaining a mining/quarry lease. Moreover, there exists low awareness level among investors about untapped mineral reserves available in Gujarat and this results in inadequate exploitation of available mineral reserves. The state can be proactive in order to attract investment in this sector by making available pre-identified mineral areas/ blocks with clear titles for commercial exploitation which investors can bid for,” said the report. CII has suggested that the state government should encourage private participation in mining as the industry in Gujarat is yet to realise the benefits of liberalisation phase. Gujarat has strengths in non-metallic minerals, but most of these minerals are found in other states also. It was critical to have a state incentives framework to attract investors, said CII. Some of the key minerals of the state can be exported in value added form, like bentonite as activated bleaching clay, catlitter, nanoclays, etc.. “Such a policy would enable Gujarat to highlight its priority to this sector and frame a roadmap that addresses the state’s future outlook. It can also be used to facilitate streamlining of the existing system and remove some of the current delays in getting/renewing mines/quarry leases which today occur because all the applications are treated on a ‘case to case’ basis in the absence of a clear policy,” said the report while suggesting the ‘Strategy for Development.’ Gujarat is the sole producer of minerals like agate, chalk and fluorite in the country. It ranks first in production of bentonite, silica sand and perlite, second in bauxite, lignite, fireclay and clay production and third in quartz, gypsum and ballclay. Gujarat ranks third in value of mineral production with 9 per cent share and second in number of operating mines, accounting for 13 per cent of the 3,078 operating mines in India. Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh already have such a well-defined mineral policy framework in place.