Illegal mining coupled with regulatory challenges, policy gridlocks, inadequate support infrastructure, human resource and technological gaps and insufficient investments are stifling the growth of the Indian mining sector.
According to a recently released study titled ‘Mining: Building a sustainable development framework for inclusive growth’ by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India and Yes Bank, the mining sector in the country at present is saddled with logistical inefficiencies along with economic, bureaucratic and environmental hurdles as well as a host of capacity related issues. These are primarily due to absence of coordination between the various government agencies involved and lack of central planning. The roadblocks routinely encountered in transportation of minerals from mines to the point of consumption are also a cause of major concern for the sector.
The study suggested various measures that need to be initiated by the government agencies, miners and also banks and financial institutions for providing a boost to the sector. The measures include preparing a time-bound plan to closely monitor mining activities, introducing a single-window system to centralise the functions of all ministries and agencies involved for expeditious approvals, making available transparent information to boost investor confidence, enabling local community participation, conducting training programmes to develop skilled manpower, using world-class technology and equipment with latest emission norms, adopting environmentally sustainable practices, revamping of evacuation infrastructure, ensuring adequate financial support from banks, financial institutions and government agencies, tapping into innovative sources of funding by the industry and improving financing avenues across the mineral value chain.
The study pointed out that production of minerals in the country had been adversely impacted following the global meltdown and the ban on iron ore mining and its export in the states of Goa and Karnataka. Export of iron ore fell from over 117 million tonnes in 2009-10 to about 14 million tonnes in 2013 – 14. Around one million jobs were lost as a consequence.
The Indian mining industry largely comprises small and medium enterprises.
The study estimated that rapid urbanisation and growth in the manufacturing sector would fuel up to 9-11 per cent annual growth in demand for various metals and minerals with demand further growing four-five times during the next decade.