Centre adopts scheme for accreditation of private exploration agencies for minerals

The QCI-NABET will grant accreditation to private exploration agencies to undertake prospecting operations of minerals in accordance with the standards and procedures of the scheme

The mines ministry on Wednesday said it has adopted a scheme for accreditation of private exploration agencies to undertake prospecting operations of minerals.

"The Ministry of Mines has adopted the scheme for accreditation of private exploration agencies developed by the National Accreditation Board for Education and Training of the Quality Council of India (QCI-NABET)," according to an official statement.

The QCI-NABET will grant accreditation to private exploration agencies to undertake prospecting operations of minerals in accordance with the standards and procedures of the scheme.

"The interested private exploration agencies shall be required to obtain accreditation in accordance with the scheme and thereafter apply to the ministry for their notification under the second proviso to sub-Section (1) of Section 4 of the Act," the mines ministry said.

The ministry has formulated guidelines for considering the exploration agencies for notification containing detailed procedure, terms and conditions for the same.

"Ministry of Mines has published the scheme for accreditation and guidelines for notification of accredited private exploration agencies on the official website of the Ministry…," it said.

The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, (MMDR Act) was recently amended through the MMDR Amendment Act, 2021, with effect from March 28, 2021. It empowers the Centre to notify entities, including private entities, that may undertake prospecting operations, subject to such terms and conditions as may be specified by the Centre.

"With the view to increase the pace of exploration in the country and to bring advance technology in exploration of minerals, it has been decided to notify private exploration agencies to undertake prospecting operations under the second proviso to Section 4(1) of the MMDR Act," it said.

Currently, only government agencies are involved in exploration and the pace of exploration is limited by their capacity. The present step of the government is a major regulatory reform in the mineral sector aimed to unleash the economic potential of the sector by bringing more agencies in exploration of minerals.

This will increase the pace of exploration, create new employment opportunities in the sector and bring more explored blocks for auction. The scheme will also help in encouraging new entrepreneurs in the field of exploration and bringing latest technology and expertise to the sector.

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