The key to economic growth lies in improving the investment climate as well as investor sentiment through sustained reforms and the government is rightly moving in that direction. The Budget for 2017-18 builds that positive sentiment with a focus on rural economy and infrastructure which got a generous dose of funds infusion of Rs 3.96 lakh crore- a catalyst for driving the demand for metals and minerals.
In this context, the mining sector has to chip in with a much larger role. While, the demand for commodities has been strong, supply is constrained which results in increased imports. India’s inadequate exploration is the major bottleneck in the development of the sector which has not kept pace with the growth in demand due to meager investments in exploration and the limited participation of the private sector in upstream activity. Exploration activity must pick up pace and private participation encouraged for the industry to flourish.
The increasing infrastructure requirement further underlines the sector’s importance with rapid growth of end-user industries like steel, power, construction driving demand for metals. Mining sector in India has to grow faster in meeting high manufacturing growth in fulfilling the government’s vision by achieving optimal utilization of India’s mineral resources through scientific, sustainable and transparent mining practices.
There is need to develop geo-scientific partnerships with State Governments, Industry and other stakeholders for management of mineral resources both on land and offshore. And the key to obtaining high productivity and cost effectiveness is by ensuring fairness and transparency in allotment of mineral concessions.
Another important aspect is to lure investment in this capital intensive industry which will guarantee long term funding and also ensure availability of modern technology as the mining sector has to pitch in with a much bigger role to realise the government’s dream of making India a developed country with its infrastructure well in place.
The government’s decision of opening up the coal mining sector to central and state PSUs for undertaking production and sale of this dry fuel is a landmark step that will make coal available freely to industries and power generating companies ensuring coal security.
Technological advancements have made mining more productive than it has ever been. Modern mining personnel must be highly skilled and well trained in the use of complex, state-of-the-art instruments and equipment. The use of right mining equipment is very essential for increased productivity. Indian mining companies have to use most modern and sophisticated equipment that are giving high productivity with cost-effectiveness.
One of the greatest challenges is integrating economic activity with environment integrity, social concerns and effective governance system. We need to introspect and review the processes and mechanisms employed to ensure consistency in compliance and to improve our social and environmental performance that will lead to more sustainable development of the mining processes.
With a budget that has all the ingredients to propel growth, improved business scenario, implementation of reforms, roll- out of GST which is almost a certainty now, and the government’s determination, the country is headed to see one of the highest levels of growth amid turbulence in most world economies where industrial growth is lagging.