Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023
- The Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002 (OAMDR Act) is an Indian legislation enacted to regulate the exploration and exploitation of minerals in the offshore areas of India.
- The Act aims to regulate the exploration and exploitation of minerals in the offshore areas of India, including territorial waters, continental shelf, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and other maritime zones.
- Licensing and Regulation: The Act establishes a licensing system for individuals or entities interested in conducting exploration or mining activities in offshore regions. The Central Government grants licenses or authorised authorities.
- Exclusive Rights: Licensees are granted exclusive rights for exploration and mining in the licensed area, subject to the provisions of the Act and other relevant laws.
- Royalty and Fees: The Act prescribes the payment of royalties and other fees for the exploration and exploitation of minerals in offshore areas.
- Despite the enactment of the Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, of 2002, there has been no mining activity in offshore areas.
- This indicates a lack of interest or effective utilisation of the vast maritime resources available to India.
- The Amendment Bill seeks to address the underlying issues and incentivize exploration and mining in these offshore areas.
- The Rajya Sabha recently passed the Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, aiming to introduce crucial reforms in India’s offshore mining sector.
- This amendment seeks to modify the existing Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002, to enable the auction as the method of allocating operating rights in offshore areas.
- Two types of operating rights, production lease, and composite licence, are to be granted through auction by competitive bidding exclusively to the private sector.
- The provision for the renewal of production leases has been removed.
- A limit has been imposed on the total area one entity can acquire offshore. The maximum acquisition area is restricted to 45 minutes latitude by 45 minutes longitude for any mineral
- Provisions for easy transfer of composite licence or production lease.
- By introducing auction as the method of allocation of operating rights, the Bill aims to promote transparency, attract private sector participation, and optimize India’s maritime resources to support its economic growth ambitions.
- This reform aligns with India’s vision to harness its vast maritime resources while ensuring sustainable and responsible mining practices.