The parliament has enacted the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2023. The amendment provides following directions regarding exploration license:
- The exploration licence shall be granted for a period of five years from the date of execution of the exploration licence;
- If, after three years from the date of execution of exploration licence, but before the date of its expiry, the holder of the exploration licence makes an application for the extension of the period of that licence, the State Government may, on being satisfied that within the period of five years, it shall not be possible for the holder of such licence to complete the reconnaissance or prospecting operations for reasons beyond his control, extend the said period to a further period not exceeding two years.
- After three years from the date of execution of the exploration licence, the holder of such licence may retain an area not exceeding twenty-five percentage of the total area covered under that licence for the purpose of continuing reconnaissance or prospecting operations and shall surrender the remaining area after submitting a report to the State Government stating the reasons for retention of the area proposed to be retained by him and the boundaries of that area.
- The holder of the exploration licence shall, within three months of the completion of the operations for which licence has been granted, or of the date of expiry of the exploration licence, whichever is earlier, submit a geological report to the State Government explaining the result of the reconnaissance and prospecting operations, in such manner as may be prescribed.
- If the holder of the exploration licence fails to complete the reconnaissance and prospecting operations before expiry of the exploration licence, or fails to submit the geological report within the specified period for the State Government may take such action as it deems fit, including imposition of penalty.
- Within six months from the date of receipt of the geological report from the holder of the exploration license, the Central Government or the State Government shall initiate the auction process for grant of one or more separate mining leases, as the case may be, in respect of the area where existence of mineral content is established and shall select the preferred bidder for grant of such mining leases within one year from the date of receipt of the geological report.