India’s ministry of mines secretary, Arun Kumar has urged African countries and the private sector in his country to look for partnership opportunities in the Indian mining and downstream sector.

“We would like our parastatals (state firms) to join hands with parastatals in Africa,” Kumar said at the annual “mining indaba” that ended in Cape Town on Thursday.

“Parastatals, by their nature, find themselves in some difficulties working in an open competitive environment, so we are looking for those opportunities.”

“Private sector has a major role and therefore, as you would see in various fields the private sector has come in at various levels of participation, there is a very open policy on licensing,” Kumar added.

He said the Indian government was keen for transparency and to ensure that the country’s natural resource were used for the empowerment of its citizens.

“So what we brought in was an auction system, I am well aware that auctioning of mineral resources other than petroleum and natural gas is not the way the world does it but we have taken on this path in the interest of transparency and fair play,” he told delegates.

“So you free to bid, free to come to India, 100 percent FDI (foreign direct investment)  is permissible, full repatriation of profits is permissible. Our legal requirement is that you need to incorporate in India but 100 percent control will remain with the investor.”

Kumar said India produces $44 billion worth of resources, with minerals, oil, and gas accounting for 32 percent, coal and lignite  for 35 percent with other minerals made up 33 percent.

Kumar said the Indian government had constituted local funds to address problems arising in local communities after realising that areas most affected by mining activity were often left stranded when revenue was channeled to the central, federal government or provincial governments.

“Whatever we say, mining is a disruptive activity and we need to address it. There are environmental laws in our country as across all jurisdictions but at the end of the day, mining does disturb that environment going forward,” Kumar said.

“So we made a provision for a district mineral fund where the revenues from mining go to the districts and eliminate the difficulties in that area, people get a stake so that people understand  that this activity also looks after the social life and therefore we expect that mining would have greater social sanction going forward.”

– African News Agency (ANA)