New Delhi: The Pellet Manufacturers’ Association of India (PMAI) has urged the Centre not to extend the leases of mines those are going to expire in 2020 as per the Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Act 2015.

As per the MMDR Amendment Act 2015, mining leases held by merchant miners would be expired in March 2020 and the same would be allotted on the basis of auction.

Citing possible shortage of iron ore in the market after March 2020, the merchant miners have appealed the Centre for extension of leases up to 2030. Stating that the licences of 288 merchant mines, of which 59 mines are under operations, will expire by March next and if the auction of the mines is delayed it could significantly affect the steel production.

The PMAI, in a letter to the the Niti Aayog has said that there would be no problem of iron ore availability in the country post March 2020 as about 200 million tonne per annum (mtpa) mine capacity will still be operational and auctioned virgin iron ore blocks will start adding to the production.

The PMAI, however, suggested that suitable amendment in mineral concession rules 2017 may be made allowing captive miners to sell up to maximum 25 per cent of the total mineral excavated in the previous year.

“The merchant miners are interested more in exports due to very high margins and do not bother for any value addition to meet the requirement of domestic consumer, whereas captive miner make much bigger investment in the end use industry like a steel or pellet plant, generating employment and revenue for the exchequer,” it added.