Miners to focus on exploring untapped minerals

Bangalore, Sep 18 (IANS) The Indian mining industry is looking up to the government for right policy framework to explore minerals like gold, copper, nickel and manganese, which remain untapped despite their growing demand, an industry leader said Wednesday.

"Slow pace of exploration of our mineral resources is a cause for concern. No new mine of any metal has been opened up since a decade though our country is endowed with abundant mineral reserves," Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) president H.C. Daga told reporters ahead of the sector's three-day convention-cum-trade show here from Thursday.

With the lowest per capita consumption of metals in the world, India sits on huge mineral deposits due to abysmally low exploration activity and minimal private sector participation in exploring and mining them.

"The incremental growth in mineral commodities has been negligible due to lack of exploration and investments in new technologies. There is a shortage of mineral commodities like rock phosphate, manganese ore and coal (coking and non-coking). Demand for rare elements and energy critical metals will rise to meet needs of cutting edge technologies in future," Daga said.

In case of gold, though India is the largest consumer of the yellow metal, its production remained stagnant at two-three tonnes per annum during the last five years, forcing its imports surge to about 1,000 tonnes this fiscal from 715 tonnes five years ago.

"Though gold ore reserves are estimated to be about 390 million tonnes, production is a mere 0.5 million tonne due to lack of exploration and investment in technology. As a result, its growing import quantity has resulted in serious current account deficit for the government," Daga said.

Noting that exploration budget remained negligible, Daga said the mining sector had the potential to grow if investments by the private sector were allowed with pro-active policies and right regulatory system, which would also ensure environmental protection.

"In spite of enviable mineral resources concentrated in clusters across the country, it is regrettable a number of ferrous and non-ferrous metals are imported to meet the domestic consumption," Daga said.

The fourth edition of the 'Mining, Exploration Convention and Trade Show, organised by the ministry of mines in partnership with FIMI and other industry associations from India and abroad, will focus on exploration, prospective licensing, new technologies, investment prospects and manpower requirements.

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