India is set to offer 100 mineral blocks for exploration to private companies in an effort to raise output and reduce dependence on overseas purchases.
India's Mines and Steel Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the blocks are spread over 12,000km² and would be offered once the government notifies the National Mineral Exploration Policy (NMEP).
Tomar added that the blocks identified by Geological Survey of India (GSI) have been given to mines ministry and later on would be offered to the private sector too.
Under the new draft policy of Union mines ministry, the private companies will get a share in the revenue from the successful bidder of a block.
Reuters quoted Tomar saying: "If we have 500 million tonnes iron ore available, we should explore that availability and mine it the day we need it."
The identified blocks are also expected to be rich in minerals such as gold, iron, and tin, as well as tungsten.
Two of the mines to be auctioned are believed to be new and located in the eastern states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
In January 2016, the Government of India announced plans to amend the mining law to facilitate transfer of leases that have been allotted for captive use to end-user industries.
Amendment of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 is aimed at unlocking several investments stuck in debt-laden minerals sector.