The Ins and Outs: Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation

India is well endowed with natural resources, particularly minerals, which serve as raw materials for many industries, paving the way for rapid industrialisation and infrastructural development. This, in turn, is set to facilitate the economy’s ascent along the road of sustained growth and a five trillion-dollar economy. In order to realise the mineral wealth of the country, extensive amendments have been made to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Amendment) Act, 1957 (‘MMDR Act’) by the MMDR Amendment Act, 2021 and the corresponding Rules with the objectives of generating employment and investment in the mining sector, increasing revenue to the States, improving the production and time-bound operationalisation of mines, etc. 

Further, to facilitate State Governments in identifying more blocks for auction and increase the availability of minerals across the country, the Ministry of Mines had introduced a series of amendments to ramp up the auction of mineral blocks for composite licencing.  To this effect, recently, the Government notified the Mineral (Auction) Amendment Rules, 2022 that allowed global positioning system for the identification and demarcation of the area where a composite licence is proposed to be granted. The Union Cabinet had also approved the amendment to the Second Schedule of the MMDR Act in March, 2022 to specify the royalty rates of certain minerals, including potash, emerald and platinum group of metals to ensure better participation in the auction of Mines.

This Article studies the series of amendments made to the MMDR Act and related Rules while analysing their impact on the developmental activities of the sector.

Analysis of the Amendments


Removal of the Distinction Between Captive and Non-captive Mines

Earlier, the Act empowered the central government to reserve any mine (other than coal, lignite, and atomic minerals) as a captive mine which would be used for a specific purpose only. The present Amendment removes this distinction between captive and non-captive mines. Now, the mines will not be limited to just a specific purpose/industry/sector. Thus, no mine will be reserved for a particular end-use. All future auctions will be without any end-use restrictions. The amendment would “facilitate an increase in production and supply of minerals, ensure economies of scale in mineral production, stabilise prices of ore in the market and bring additional revenue to the States…


Sale of Minerals by Captive Mines

Earlier, as per the Act, the ores extracted from captive mines were only used by captive industries. The present Amendment provides that captive mines (other than atomic minerals) may sell up to 50% of their annual mineral production in the open market after meeting their own needs. The central government may increase this threshold through a notification. The lessee will have to pay additional charges for minerals sold in the open market. The sale of minerals by captive plants will aid and expedite growth in mineral production and supply, leading to commercial viability in mineral production and, as a result, additional revenue for the states. 

Transfer of Statutory Clearances

Earlier, the Act provided that upon expiry of a mining lease (other than coal, lignite, and atomic minerals), mines are leased to new parties through auction. The statutory clearances issued to the previous lessee are transferred to the new lessee for a period of two years. The new lessee is required to obtain fresh clearances within two years. The present Amendment replaces this provision and instead provides that transferred statutory clearances will be valid throughout the lease period of the new lessee. This amendment ensures continuity of mining operations, even with the change of the lessee and helps to avoid the repetitive process of obtaining clearances again for the same mine, which would facilitate the early commencement of the mining operations. 


Auction by the Central Government in Certain Cases

Under the Act, states conduct the auction of mineral concessions (other than coal, lignite, and atomic minerals). Mineral concessions include mining leases and prospecting license-cum-mining leases. The present Amendment empowers the central government to specify a time period for completion of the auction process in consultation with the state government. If the state government is unable to complete the auction process within this period, the auctions may be conducted by the central government. This amendment ensures that no mine is left idle and increases mining in the country.


Allocation of Mines with Expired Leases

The Amendment adds that mines (other than coal, lignite, and atomic minerals) whose lease has expired may be allocated to a government company in certain cases. This will be applicable if the auction process for granting a new lease has not been completed, or the new lease has been terminated within a year of the auction. The state government may grant a lease for such a mine to a government company for a period of up to 10 years or until the selection of a new lessee, whichever is earlier. This Amendment increases revenue for the states.


Lapse and Extension of Mining Lease

The erstwhile Act provided that where the mining operation is not commenced by the lessee within 2 years of the grant of a lease or the mining operation has been discontinued for two years, the mining lease shall be deemed to have expired for such period. The new amendment substituted the earlier provisions of Section 4A with a new provision stating that the mining lease will not lapse at the end of the said period if a concession is granted by the State Government upon an application by the lessee. It also provides for the extension of the mining lease by declaring that the State Government can extend the threshold period of lapse of the lease only once and up to one year. This ensures continuity in mining operations.


Removal of Non-Exclusive License Regime

In the earlier act, companies had a non-exclusive licence for the reconnaissance of the area to find out mineral potential. The amendment removes the non-exclusive licence permit.


Simplification of Exploration Regime

As per the new amendment:

  • Mineral Blocks for Composite Licences can be auctioned at the G4 level of exploration instead of the G3 level as per the earlier standard.
  • Mineral Blocks for surficial minerals can be auctioned for the grant of a mining lease at G3 level instead of G2 level.
  • Private entities may be notified under Section 4(1) of the Act to conduct exploration.


Transfer of Mineral Concessions

Restrictions on the transfer of mineral concessions have been removed and now mineral concessions can be transferred without any transfer charge.


District Mineral Foundation (DMF)

It is a non-profit body established to work for the interest and benefit of people and areas affected by mining or mining-related operations. State governments were tasked with establishing DMFs in each mining district of their respective states, as well as prescribing the composition and operation of DMFs, including the use of funds. The new Amendment Act, 2021, empowers the Central Government to direct the composition and utilisation of the funds from the District Mineral Foundation. This ensures the optimization of funds for the development of mining areas. 



Present amendments in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Amendment) Act, 1957 (‘MMDR Act’) and the corresponding Rules do nullify several restrictive and covert provisions that existed in the erstwhile Act of 1957. The new regime will be instrumental in increasing mineral production, improving the ease of doing business in the country, and increasing mineral production’s contribution to GDP.

The amendments have also successfully capacitated the State governments to notify 40 mineral blocks of G4 level of exploration for grant of composite license, out of which 6 mineral blocks have been successfully auctioned, as of April 2022.  [1]

However, like any other public policy and legislation, implementation of the Act and Rules with proper coordination among central and state governments is the key to achieving reforms in the mining sector and sustainable development. 




Image Credits: Image by Анатолий Стафичук from Pixabay

Present amendments in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Amendment) Act, 1957 and the corresponding Rules do nullify several restrictive and covert provisions that existed in the erstwhile Act of 1957. The new regime shall be instrumental in boosting mineral production, improving the ease of doing business in the country and increasing contribution of mineral production to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


Project Cost in Infrastructure Projects: Concept, Challenges and Way Forward

The IMF and Central Statistic Organization had dubbed the Indian economy as the fastest growing economy back in 2019. Moving forward, in 2021 despite the havoc wrecked by the pandemic on advanced economies across the globe, the IMF has kept India’s growth forecast unchanged at 9.5%. In order to sustain India’s growth momentum, the development of country’s infrastructure sector is cogent. The National Infrastructure Pipeline has been the focus of current policies, with an unprecedented increase in capital expenditure allocation for FY 2021-22 by 34.5% to INR 5.5 lakh crore to propel infrastructure creation. However, the April-June 2021 report of The Ministry of Statistics states that 470 projects sanctioned by the centre suffered from a cost overrun of 61.5 percent, that is Rs 4,46,169.37 crore[1].

Project cost remains the central concern for any seminal discussion on infrastructural projects in India or around the world. This is the nebulous point where a host of stakeholders would converge to dispute, disagree, or litigate. This article aims to discuss the concept of project cost and its various implications for the different stakeholders involved.

Introduction to Infrastructure and Projects


Costs that are reasonably incurred for the acquisition and construction of infrastructure are referred to as infrastructure costs. Hence, Project cost could mean the total cost of an infrastructure project.  In India, there is no clear definition of the term infrastructure. However, on 1st March 2012, the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure approved the framework to include a harmonised master list of sub-sectors to guide all the agencies responsible for supporting infrastructure in India. These sub-sectors include transports and logistics, energy, water and sanitation, communication, and social infrastructure. Out of the plethora of these sub-sectors, during the fiscals of 2020-2025, it is expected that sub-sectors such as Energy (24%), Roads (19%), Railways (13%) and Urban (16%) shall constitute 70%of the projected capital expenditure in infrastructure in India[2]. The total capital expenditure as per the report is expected to be 102 lakh crore Indian rupees. Furthermore, in India, the current investment in infrastructure is USD 3.9 Trillion, and the required investment is USD 4.5 Trillion, leaving a gap of USD 526 Billion[3]. Therefore, the energy and infrastructure sector are instrumental in generating tremendous employment opportunities and drive a substantial increase in GDP per annum in India as well as countries all over the world.


Structure of Project Finance Transactions


The main parties involved in a project finance transaction structure are (i) The Authority or the Government (ii) The Private Party Investors/Developers, Sponsors or Promotors and (iii) the Lenders. These three parties are key players responsible for the determination of project costs in infrastructure and construction projects. The principal point of convergence for these three players is the project company (i.e., also known as special purpose vehicle) set up by the private party investors under which the infrastructure project is formed and under which the project exists in the concession agreement. The project cost is mainly estimated by the private party and the lenders who would finance in the form of equity and debt. The typical financial structure for infrastructure projects has a debt-to-equity ratio of 75:25. However, the ratio may vary depending upon the risks involved.

                Illustration I: Key parties that influence the project cost of an infrastructure project



Risks that affect the Determination of Project Cost


Every project has certain risks attached to its completion. These risks influence the determination of project costs by the authority, the private parties and the lenders. The risks, in turn, then affect the total cost of the project. The risks affecting the three parties are explained below:


                                Illustration II: Risks that affect the determination of project cost


 Risk for Authority

Risk for Private Party

Risk for Lender

Technical or physical risks

Economic or market risks

Economic or market risks

Risk relating to land acquisition

Construction and completion risk – cost overrun/time

Financing risks

For eg. Technical or physical risks may include risks
associated with
technology during
construction and operation as well as social and environmental risks.

For eg. Economic or
market risks may include input and output price variations, variation in
demand, debt/equity financing as well as counterparty risks.

For eg. Economic or
market risks may include input and output price variations, variation in
demand, debt/equity financing as well as counterparty risks.

The other risks that affect the cost of the project are contractual and legal risks, resource and raw material availability risks, demand risks, design risks, force majeure, property damage, permits, licenses, authorization, supply risk, social and environmental risks.


The Major Risks affecting Project Cost in India: Cost Overrun and Time Overrun


Out of the myriad of risks affecting project cost, the major risks in India are the risks associated with cost and time overruns. As many as 525 infrastructure projects were hit by time overruns, and as many as 470 infrastructure projects, each worth Rs 150 crore or more, were hit by cost overruns of over Rs 4.38 Trillion owing to delays, according to a report by the Ministry of Statistics, cited previously[4] The main causes for time overruns are delay in obtaining forest and environmental clearances, delay in land acquisition,  and lack of infrastructure support.  As per the report, there are other reasons like delay in project financing, delay in finalisation of detailed engineering, alteration in scope, delay in ordering and equipment supply, law, geological issues, contractual complications and delay in tendering.


The Key Elements of Project Cost


The elements of ‘costing’ include variables such as raw materials, labour, and expenses. Thus, for infrastructure projects as well, at the time of estimation of cost, these variables would come into play. The factors affecting cost for a public-private partnership project could be the following:


                        Illustration III: Factors affecting Cost of Projects: PPP model projects









Costs and delays
associated with procurement and delivery of materials, import costs

Availability or non –
availability of skilled labour.

Recurring changes in

Poor site management
and supervision

Change orders

Force Majeure events
and weather changes.

International dispute
resolution in outside jurisdictions[1]

Unavailability of raw

Poor management of

Delay in approvals and

Inept subcontractors

Political and policy
changes such as MII[2]

Approvals from

Costly and time-consuming
domestic litigation

Wastage and theft of
materials – 13 to 14 million construction waste (FY 2000-2001)[3]

Increasing cost of

Inaccuracy in design,
costs associated with knowledge transfer

Poor planning,
scheduling and cash flow management by Contractors

Poor communication for
quality and cost


High legal costs and high
arbitrators fees[4].
Non-realisation of arbitral awards and court decree amounts.



Case Study: The Mumbai Monorail – An EPC Contract Model


Time and cost overruns in projects lead to disputes and arbitrations. A suitable example is the  Mumbai Monorail which has entered disputes and arbitration between the Contractor and the Authority over its project cost[9]. The development authority MMRDA entered into a contract with L&T Scomi Engineering for the construction of the Mumbai Monorail project. The original project cost between the Private Party Investors and the Authority was estimated to be Rs 2,700 crore, after which disputes arose. The Authority had claims against the Contractor for not completing the project task on time. The arguments of the Contractor pertained to the cost escalations caused by delays due to the fault of the Authority.  In 2019, the Bombay High Court appointed an arbitrator to settle the dispute. Currently, the dispute is still in the arbitration stage. Furthermore, post-December 2018, the MMRDA had taken over the Operation and Maintenance of the Mumbai Monorail project from L&T Scomi Engineering. Due to the Make in India policy, the tenders for manufacturing of the Mumbai Monorail were altered to encourage manufacturers and Indian technology partners to participate and fulfil the demands of manufacturing the additional monorail rakes[10]. Among other issues currently plaguing the Mumbai Monorail project, such as unavailability of a sufficient number of rakes to keep the services running and an inadequate number of spare parts, the widening deficit between revenue and O&M costs, remains primary.   


Way Forward


As per the report by the Ministry of Statistics cited above, the reason for cost and time overruns can be largely attributed to the state-wise lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been causing great hindrance to the implementation of infrastructure projects. Time and cost overruns in projects lead to disputes and arbitrations. Furthermore, in the procurement stage of projects, biddings in India happen with the project sponsor underbidding for the project so as to survive the competitive market. However, the underbidding combined with lack of margin included in the overall costs by contractors or sponsors often overlook inevitable hidden and unforeseeable costs which in turn enhance the final costs of the project. For instance, the Mumbai-Monorail project is a classic example of cost overrun. The solution would be to have a clear understanding of the project agreements, risks involved in the project particularly the conditions of force majeure, an objective evaluation of project cost while bidding taking into account uncertainties relating to raw material procurement, labour laws, land acquisition and risks related to cost and time overruns due to decisions of the awarding authority or public policy or any of the factors described above. The compensation clauses should be coherent and unambiguous, and in line with actual project cost incurred in the project leaving less scope for future disputes and arbitrations. Furthermore, it would be useful for the contractors / concessionaires , while making claims in an infrastructure project, to do it in a timely manner while maintaining clear and systematic evidentiary documentation, to substantiate the claims that may have arisen during the course of the project.



[2] Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman releases Report of the Task Force on National Infrastructure Pipeline for 2019-2025, dated 31 December 2019, Press Information Bureau, (2019), (last visited Sep 17, 2021).

[3] Forecasting Infrastructure Investment Needs and gaps, Global Infrastructure Outlook – A G20 INITIATIVE, (last visited Sep 17, 2021).

[4] 422nd Flash Report on Central Sector Projects (Rs.150 Crore and Above), March 2021, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation Infrastructure and Project Monitoring Division (2021), Available at: (last visited Sep 17, 2021)

[5] Joseph Mante, Issaka Ndekugri & Nii Ankrah, Resolution of Disputes Arising From Major Infrastructure Projects In Developing Countries Fraunhofer, (last visited Sep 17, 2021).

[6] Make in India Initiative, Government of India.

[7] Sandeep Shrivastava and Abdol Chini M.E. Rinker Sr., Construction Materials and C&D Waste in India, School of Building Construction University of Florida, USA, (last visited Sep 17, 2021).

[8] Amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, August 2014, Law Commission of India, Report No.246.

[9] Larsen and Toubro Limited Scomi Engineering BHD vs. Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority MANU 2018 SC 1151, Arbitration Petition (C) No. 28 OF 2017.

[10]Adimulam, S. (2021, March 2). Mumbai: Monorail rakes will be made in India. Mumbai. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from



Image Credits: Photo by Wade Austin Ellis on Unsplash

The solution would be to have a clear understanding of the project agreements, risks involved in the project particularly the conditions of force majeure, an objective evaluation of project cost while bidding taking into account uncertainties relating to raw material procurement, labour laws, land acquisition and risks related to cost and time overruns due to decisions of the awarding authority or public policy or any of the factors described above.