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Mining Law: Definition and Meaning
India is a mineral-rich nation with more than 20,000 mineral reserves. The nation produces 90 minerals total, including four fuels, 10 metallic, 50 non-metallic, three atomic, and 23 minor minerals. The country ranks second globally in the production of chromite, barytes, and talc, third for coal and lignite, and fourth for iron ore, kyanite, andalusite, and silimanite.
The first legislative framework for the control and development of mining in independent India was the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Act, passed in 1948. The Mineral Concession Rules (MCR) and the Mineral Conservation and Development Rules were two sets of rules created under the Act, which was passed by the Parliament in 1957. (MCDR).
What is the Meaning of Mining Law?
Mining law is the area of law that deals with the regulations that apply to mining and minerals. The ownership of the mineral resource and who is permitted to exploit it are two fundamental issues covered by mining law. Regulations pertaining to the health and safety of miners as well as the effects of mining on the environment also have an impact on mining.
Mining Legislation in India
The following three laws specifically address safety, the environment, and mineral development −
Mines Act, 1952
The legislation is enforced by the Ministry of Labor and Employment. The Mines Act of 1952 addresses policies relating to the health, safety, and welfare of workers in coal, metalliferous, and oil mines. The owner's responsibilities for managing mining operations, mine health and safety, and mine management are set down in the legislation. Additionally, it details the minimum salary rates, the number of hours that miners are required to work, and other important details. The Directorate General of Mine Safety (DGMS) is the Indian government's regulatory authority for mine and oil field safety.
Mines and Mineral (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957
The MMDR Act, 1957 is a significant piece of policy legislation approved by the Parliament that has the ability to kickstart the mining industry's transformation and usher in a time of rapid expansion. The Republic of India passed this law as a foundational piece for the governance and expansion of the country's mining and mineral industries. The fundamental basis for Indian mining regulation is provided by this legislation. In accordance with the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, it also allows for the elaboration of a number of regulations by executive action through the relevant ministries. The mine is subject to the following laws and restrictions as a result of this legislation:
Mineral Concession Rules, 1960
The requirements and processes for acquiring a prospecting license and mining lease are outlined in the Mineral Concession Rules (MCR). A "mining plan" is required by these regulations to include, among other things, a map of the area indicating water sources, the boundaries of forest areas, the density of trees, the impact of mining activity on the forest, land surface, and environment, including air and water pollution, a plan for reforestation of the area, the adoption of pollution control measures, and any additional actions that may be mandated by the relevant Central and state government agencies. It follows that strategies for environmental management are included in mining plans.
Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 1988
The Mineral Conservation and Development Rules (MCDR) provide standards for mining that are based on science and protect the environment at the same time. The requirements for filing and reporting in situations involving reconnaissance activities, prospecting, or applying for a mining plan are likewise governed by the MCDR. These regulations also outline the operation and functioning of open-pit and underground mines, the steps to take in the event that a mine is abandoned or temporarily closed, and beneficiation studies.
State Minor Mineral Concession Rules
According to the MMDR Act of 1957 and the MCR of 1960, the Central Government's prior consent is necessary in the following circumstances −
The minerals mentioned in the First Schedule of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act of 1957 are eligible for mining concessions.
Exceeding the limitations established in Sections 6(1)(a)(a), 6(1)(a), and 6(1)(b) of the Act when allowing someone access to areas covered by a reconnaissance authorization, prospecting license, or mining lease.
Modifying a mining lease in accordance with Rule 27(3) of the Mineral Concession Rules of 1960, a prospecting license in accordance with Rule 14(3), and a reconnaissance permit in accordance with Rule 7 to impose extra limitations (3).
The conditions of Rule 59(1) of the MCR from 1960 cannot be relaxed in order to issue a mining concession without first informing the government. (2).
Any state government order regarding a mineral—other than a minor mineral—that has been revised.
In exceptional cases, the Act's rules may be relaxed while taking mineral development into account.
Granite Conservation and Development Rules, 1999
Granite is a 'Minor Mineral' under the MMDR Act, 1957. The issuance of various mineral concessions for granite is consequently regulated under the Minor Mineral Concession Rules of the separate State Governments. The Granite Conservation and Development Rules, 1999, on the other hand, seek to provide standardized guidelines for the preservation, methodical development, and scientific use of granite resources.
GCDR, 1999 provides −
Prospecting Licences (PL) prior to granting mining lease
Period of PL
Minimum and maximum periods of mining leases and for renewals
Minimum and maximum area of lease
Preparation of a scheme of prospecting
A mining plan is to be prepared for the grant of a mining lease, etc.
Environmental laws must address a wide range of issues, such as the identification of "no-go" areas, effective forest and wildlife acts to protect biodiversity, and rules governing mine closure and mine restoration. These measures all serve to ensure that projects that are ecologically destructive are not permitted. There are five major environmental regulations that have an effect on India's mining sector:
Effects of Mining in Environment
The following are the major effects on the environment due to excessive mining in India −
Air: Dust may be produced by haul roads and blasting activities in surface mines. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is released by many coal mines. Smelter operations that lack adequate safety measures run the risk of releasing heavy metals, sulphur dioxide, and other pollutants into the atmosphere.
Water: Although some mines reuse a significant portion of their water input, the mining industry requires a lot of water. Sulfur-containing minerals are released during mining and oxidize in the atmosphere before reacting with water to produce sulfuric acid. This affects groundwater from both surface and underground mining, along with numerous trace elements.
Land: Land is significantly impacted by the movement of rocks as a result of mining operations and overburden (material that must be removed before mining a mineral deposit) in the case of surface mines. When the mining business returns the rock and overburden to the pit from whence they were mined, these effects could only last a short while. For instance, many copper mines extract ores with a copper content of less than 1%.
Health and safety: Mining activities may be as safe or as risky as any other large-scale industrial activity, ranging from being exceedingly dangerous. Due to less effective lighting, visibility, and the risk of rock falls, underground mining is often more dangerous than surface mining. Exposure to radiation and dust provide the biggest health dangers since they may both cause respiratory issues.
The mining laws include every aspect of mining licenses, ownership, and the roles of both the federal and state governments while also providing protection to the employees through several regulations that deal with their working conditions and pay. The primary goals of the licensing system's establishment were to safeguard employees' rights and safety as well as the environment, regulate dangerous materials, assure the safety and efficacy of medications, and manage the use of limited resources.
Q1. What are the rights to mining?
Ans. A mining rights holder is required to obtain surface rights over the area or obtain the consent of the owner to start prospecting or mining operations. The government authorities provide surface rights to the winning bidder in the case of land that is owned by the government.
Q2. What would be the status of existing concessions under the New Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act (the "New Act")?
Ans. All valid concessions under the existing regime shall continue under the New Act [proviso to Section 4(1)] and extension shall be given irrespective of the size [Section 7(7)].
Q3. Who grants Mining Leases and Prospecting License-cum-Mining Lease?
Ans. As per the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDR) Amendment Act 2015, the grant of Mining Leases (ML) and Prospecting License-cum-Mining Lease (PL-cum-ML) happens only through an auction process.
Q4. Who grants mineral concessions in India?
Ans. In accordance with the MMDR Act of 1957 and the Mineral Concession Rules (MCR), 1960, the State Governments issue mineral concessions for any minerals found within the State's borders. According to the terms of the MCR of 1960 and the MMDR Act of 1957, the Central Government's prior consent is necessary in a number of circumstances.
Q5.What are the key functions of the Ministry of Mines?
Ans. The Ministry of Mines is in charge of surveying and exploring all minerals for use in the mining and metallurgy of non-ferrous metals like aluminum, copper, zinc, lead, gold, nickel, and so on, aside from natural gases, petroleum, and atomic minerals. Additionally, the Ministry of Mining is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957, with regard to all mines and minerals other than coal, natural gas, and petroleum.
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