New Delhi: The government will auction captive coal mines to companies engaged in production of steel, cement and sponge iron after obtaining necessary clearances and detailed exploration of the blocks.

“The government will endeavour to auction coal blocks after detailed exploration and obtaining necessary clearances to add value to the auction process, enhance bank ability and to ensure timely production from the coal blocks,” Outcome Budget 2014-15 (Ministry of Coal) tabled in the Parliament today said.

The process for allocation of mines through auction is under process, it said.

“Notice Inviting application was issued on February 26, 2014, offering three coal blocks for mining to companies engaged in production of steel, cement and sponge iron,” it added.

The Ministry of Coal had offered three blocks for auction for captive use for steel, cement and sponge iron companies – two in Jharkhand and one in West Bengal.

The mines have total reserves of 500 million tonnes.

The Centre has drawn flak for delaying auction.

Official auditor CAG had earlier said allotment of 57 mines to private firms without auction had resulted in a notional loss of Rs 1.8 lakh crore to the exchequer.

Last year, the government had allocated 17 coal mines to central and state public sector units, including four to NTPC. It had planned to auction 54 coal blocks with total estimated reserves of about 18 billion tonnes.

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