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SC appointed Central Empowered Committee(CEC) report on Sand mining in Rajasthan
Why in News?
SC has appointed a Central Empowered Committee(CEC) to look into sand mining in Rajasthan. The panel has submitted its report.
- Background: In February 2020, Central Empowered Committee(CEC) was appointed by SC. Its mandate was to look into illegal sand mining in Rajasthan and submit a report suggesting measures to deal with it.
What are the recommendations given by the committee?
- It has recommended imposing a fine of Rs 10 lakh per vehicle and Rs 5 lakh per cubic meter of sand seized.
- It has been said that no unregistered tractor should be used as a commercial vehicle to transport sand from the mining site to the transit depot.
- It has also recommended
- Termination of all the khatedari leases located within 5 km from the riverbank, where violations are detected.
- The scrapping of the excess royalty collection contract system.
- Sand Mining: It is an activity referring to the process of the actual removal of sand from the foreshore including rivers, streams and lakes.
- Regulation of Sand Mining:
- Sand is a minor mineral, as defined under section 3 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act,1957 (MMDR Act).
- Section 15 of the MMDR Act empowers state governments to make rules for regulating the grant of mineral concessions in respect of minor minerals and for purposes connected therewith.
- Section 23C of the Act empowers state governments to frame rules to prevent illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals and for purposes connected therewith.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016 which inter-alia, addresses the issues relating to the regulation of sand mining.
Ensuring Intergenerational Equity in Mining in India
Synopsis: For ensuring Intergenerational Equity, it is important to ensure availability of resources for future generation. For this, sustainable mining should be ensured.
But Present trend of mining as much as possible, is not according to the role of trustee acquired by the government in its policy. The extraction of oil, gas and minerals is effectively the sale of this inheritance.
What are the issues in mining trends at present?
- First, governments without their role of trustee in mind, end up with a mineral price that is considerably lesser than what they are worth.
- For example, it is projected from the yearly reports of Vedanta that from 2004 to 2012, Goa lost more than 95% of the value of its minerals. They sold mineral wealth worth 100 rupees for 5 rupees.
- Second, extractors try to extract as much as possible and move on quickly to reduce their cost and maximize their profits from an area.
- Third, the government also allows the hasty extraction, as it perceives more mining equals more government revenue.
What are the steps to be taken?
The Government Accounting Standards Advisory Board needs to correct this error in the standards for public sector accounting and reporting for mineral wealth.
- There should be legal safeguards against unregulated mining and minerals should be considered as a shared inheritance.
- The state as trustee of mineral wealth must collect the full economic rent i.e., sale price minus the cost of extraction and cost including profit for the extractor. The full value of the extracted minerals should be received by the state, according to India’s national mineral policy 2019.
- India can also maintain the entire mineral sale profits in a Future Generations Fund like Norway did. This Fund could be submissively financed through the National Pension Scheme framework.
- The Supreme Court gave a judgement in Goa Foundation vs UOI & Ors and ordered the creation of a Goa Iron Ore Permanent Fund in 2014, which already has an amount of ₹500 crores.
- This may be distributed as a citizens’ dividend, equally to all the owners and future generations would benefit from the dividend in their turn.
- The principle of fair mining in return of its real value is fully constitutional, promoting justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity. The reduction in losses would also limit corruption, crony capitalism and growing inequality.
India finds a small deposits of lithium in Karnataka
News: Preliminary surveys by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research(AMD) are learnt to have shown the presence of 1,600 tonnes of lithium resources in the igneous rocks of the Margalla-Allapatna region of Karnataka’s Mandya district.
- Lithium: It is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal.
- Characteristics: Under standard conditions, Lithium is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable. It never occurs freely in nature due to its high reactivity.
- Extraction of Lithium: Lithium can be extracted in different ways, depending on the type of the deposit – it is generally done either through solar evaporation of large brine pools or by hard-rock extraction of the ore.
- Uses of Lithium:
- Lithium and its compounds have several industrial applications, including heat-resistant glass and ceramics, flux additives for iron, steel and aluminum production, lithium batteries and lithium-ion batteries.
- Lithium is also present in biological systems in trace amounts; its functions are uncertain.
- Lithium salts have proven to be useful as a mood-stabilizing drug in the treatment of bipolar disorder in humans.
- Largest Producers of Lithium: In 2019, the largest producer of the lithium was Australia followed by Chile and China.
Lithium in India:
- India currently imports all its lithium needs. Over 165 crore lithium batteries are estimated to have been imported into India between 2016-17 and 2019-20 at an estimated import bill of upwards of $3.3 billion.
- Lithium Exploration in India:
- India is currently going for the domestic exploration push which also includes exploratory work to extract lithium from the brine pools of Rajasthan and Gujarat and the mica belts of Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
- The Margalla-Allapatna area along the Nagamangala Schist Belt, which exposes mineralised complex pegmatites (igneous rocks) is seen as among the most promising geological domains for potential exploration for lithium and other rare metals.
- There is also some potential for recovering lithium from the brines of Sambhar and Pachpadra in Rajasthan and Rann of Kachchh in Gujarat.
- The major mica belts in Rajasthan, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh, and the pegmatite belts in Odisha and Chhattisgarh apart from Karnataka are the other potential geological domains.
- Firstly, the newly found lithium in India in Margalla-Allapatna is categorised as “inferred”, one of the three categories into which mineral resources are subdivided in order of increasing geological confidence.
- Secondly, the lithium find is comparatively small, considering the size of the proven reserves in Bolivia (21 million tonnes), Argentina (17 million tonnes), Australia (6.3 million tonnes), and China (4.5 million tonnes).
- Thirdly, India is also seen as a late mover in attempts to enter the lithium value chain, coming at a time when Electric Vehicles(EVs) are predicted to be a sector ripe for disruption.
- Initiatives taken by India: In 2020, Khanij Bidesh India Ltd had signed an agreement with an Argentinian firm to jointly prospect lithium in the South American country that has the third largest reserves of the metal in the world.
- Khanij Bidesh India Ltd: It was incorporated in 2019 by three state-owned companies, NALCO, Hindustan Copper, and Mineral Exploration Ltd, with the specific mandate to acquire strategic mineral assets such as lithium and cobalt abroad.The company is learnt to be also exploring options in Chile and Bolivia.
Arunachal harbours a Vanadium source
News: Geological Survey of India(GSI) has found concentrations of vanadium in the palaeo-proterozoic carbonaceous phyllite rocks in the Depo and Tamang areas of Papum Pare district in Arunachal Pradesh. This was the first report of a primary deposit of vanadium in India.
- Vanadium: It is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. It is a hard, silvery-grey, malleable transition metal. The elemental metal is rarely found in nature and is electrically conductive and thermally insulating.
- Found in: Vanadium occurs naturally in about 65 minerals and in fossil fuel deposits. It is recovered as a by-product from the slag collected from the processing of vanadiferous magnetite ores (iron ore).
- Uses of Vanadium:
- Vanadium is mainly used to produce specialty steel alloys such as high-speed tool steels, and some aluminum alloys.
- Vanadium alloys are used in nuclear reactors because of vanadium’s low neutron-absorbing properties
- Vanadium pentoxide is used as a catalyst for the production of sulfuric acid.
- The vanadium redox battery for energy storage may be an important application in the future.
- Large amounts of vanadium ions are found in a few organisms, possibly as a toxin. Particularly in the ocean, vanadium is used by some life forms as an active center of enzymes, such as the vanadium Bromo peroxidase of some ocean algae.
- Largest Deposits: The largest deposits of vanadium of the world are in China, followed by Russia and South Africa. China, which produces 57% of the world’s vanadium consumed 44% of the metal in 2017.
- India: India is a significant consumer of vanadium, but is not a primary producer of the strategic metal. India consumed 4% of about 84,000 tonnes of vanadium produced across the globe in 2017.
- Vanadium in Arunachal Pradesh: Vanadium found in Arunachal Pradesh is geologically similar to the stone coal vanadium deposits of China hosted in carbonaceous shale. This high vanadium content is associated with graphite, with a fixed carbon content of up to 16%.