India, Ontario inks deal for cooperation in mining sector

The MoU was signed between India Mines Minister B K Handique and the Minister of Northern Development Mines and Forestry for the Ontario government, Michael Gravelle, in the presence of dignitaries from India and Canada.

Speaking on the occasion, Handique said the MoU will promote Canadian investment in the fields of mining and mineral exploration and exploitation and will encourage and foster mining investment, transfer of technology and joint ventures.

"Indeed, it is a happy occasion. We are formalising a framework of cooperation concerning geology and mineral resources on subjects of mutual interests," Handique added.

Handique, who is in Canada as part of efforts to attract Canadian mining companies to India, said: "We look forward to work with Ontario constructively for early realisation of the MoU's objectives by formation of Joint Working Group and initiating the action in a definite timeframe."

Gravelle said the MoU recognised that Ontario and India have mutual interests in the mining sector, including geosciences development, mineral exploration, mine development, mine rehabilitation, health and safety and value-added processing.

He said the MoU will provide a solid framework for Ontario and India to strengthen existing business relationships and develop new ones.

"It is a significant milestone in our efforts to identify opportunities for mutual benefit in the minerals sector," Gravelle said.

Harinder Takhar, the Ontario Minister for Government Services, said: "The MoU signed today will enable Ontario's strengths and capabilities to be deployed to help India transform its mines and mineral sector and encourage Indian investment in Ontario."

"From uranium and nickel to cobalt and potash, Ontario and the rest of Canada stand ready to supply India during its next industrial surge forward. Especially in the diamond sector, it serves everything from Bollywood films to the latest fashion, which creates demand for more cut and polished diamonds worldwide," Takhar added.

Commending India's economic growth, Takhar said that it has been remarkable and demand in India for Ontario base metals would soar in coming years as would the need for the Canadian province's long-standing expertise in mining practices and entrepreneurship, as well as metallurgy.

"Ontario's expertise in mining is known around the world, so we are natural and willing partners," Takhar said.

Top officials of the Ontario government, members of the Indian mining delegation and Preeti Saran, the Consul General of India, were among the dignitaries present on the occasion.

Indian government ministers will meet soon to consider revamping a five-decade old mining law that tries to balance the needs of investors with those of locals affected by the industry, Sandeep K Nayak, a senior officer in the Ministry of Mines said.

He said that a panel of ministers will meet on July 22 to consider the proposed legislation, which seeks to make companies share a quarter of their net profit with local communities.

"We have even proposed 26 per cent equity shareholding for land-losers," he said.

The Bill, which has been pending for two years, will have to go through Parliament for approval.

India is initiating much-needed reforms to archaic laws that have hampered private and overseas investors from tapping the country's natural resources, and in particular, wants to free up energy to power its booming economy, Handique said.

Handique will stop in Sudbury and Thunder Bay, as well as Quebec, as part of his Canadian tour.

Officials from the Geological Survey of India, the Indian Bureau of Mines, Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd and National Aluminium Company Ltd may accompany the Indian Mining Minister on his travels.

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