A senior government official said that there is misunderstanding on the National Assembly not accepting the National Council recommendation to continue allocating mines (new mines and those mines whose leases expires) to SMCL till the process of amending the mines and minerals management Act is completed.
He said, “The suggested recommendation has implementation difficulty as many small mines and quarries are under operation and 15 quarries and 5 small mines will expire by end of 2021. If this recommendation is adopted it would mean stopping all such quarries and small mines and giving them to SMCL which they neither have resources nor manpower to handle such small holding and it will be overburdened. It also means closing many small economic activities and opportunities.”
The official said in principle, NC means three big mines and maybe if other such big new mines are in the offing.
He said all three mines like coal, gypsum and now dolomite being the latest are now with government (SMCL) and there are no big new mines coming soon.
“Therefore, not endorsing the recommendation does not mean NA is against it. Endorsing it does not add value to the current status and instead will complicate implementation and understanding as agencies won’t be able to make alteration to such parliament resolutions as mines means all quarries and mineral mines,” explained the official.
Further, he said that until there is a new bill current Act 1995 is not void and still applies.
He said to avoid such misunderstanding and complications, the MoEA requested NC to process Mines and Mineral Management bill as an urgent bill which wasn’t accepted by NC as well.
He said that keeping those quarries and ongoing renewals pending till adoption of new bill will burden construction materials, project works and small economic units.
The official said mining is also an important contributor and sustainably increasing its contribution to GDP is important.
He said Post COVID new projects in the region like Bangladesh might increase demand for stone mining (quarries), and so they need to keep space for growth as well.