12. Grant of exploration licence.-
(1) The administering authority may grant an exploration licence to any person who-
(a) is eligible under section 6 for grant of operating right;
(b) produces, to the satisfaction of the administering authority, evidence that such person possesses the requisite technical ability and financial resources to undertake exploration operation based on such scientific parameters, as may be prescribed;
(c) submits a work programme for the area applied for, prepared in such manner and supported by such data as may be prescribed, setting forth the activities proposed to be carried out during the period of the exploration licence including the intended exploration schedule and methods to be used, an estimated schedule of expenditure, measures to prevent pollution and protect the environment and to monitor the effectiveness of environmental safeguards subject to the modifications which the administering authority may make in such work programme;
(d) undertakes not to deviate from the work programme for exploration licence approved by the administering authority; and
(e) has fulfilled, to the satisfaction of administering authority, all his statutory obligations under any operating right previously-
(i) granted; or
(ii) transferred in the prescribed manner,
(2) The administering authority may, if there is any reasonable cause to believe that any person, to whom an exploration licence has been granted, has violated any undertaking given under clause (d) of sub-section (1), terminate the exploration licence.
(3) All applications for the grant of exploration licence received within the prescribed time and which satisfy the conditions specified in sub-section (1) shall be considered together and while making a selection for the grant of exploration licence, the administering authority shall follow the procedure given below, namely:-
(a) where only one application is received in respect of an area, the administering authority may grant the exploration licence to the applicant;
(b) where two or more applications are received in respect of the same area or substantially the same area, the order of preference shall be as follows, namely:-
(I) preference shall be given to an applicant who requires the mineral for use in an industry either already owned by the applicant or who has taken sufficient steps to set-up such industry:
Provided that where there are more than one application of such category, the administering authority may grant licence based on a comparative evaluation of the-
(i) nature, quality and experience of the technical personnel employed by the applicant;
(ii) financial resources of the applicant;
(iii) nature and quantum of the exploration work proposed by the applicant; and
(iv) nature, quality and quantum of data submitted along with the programme of exploration;
(II) in case of other applicants, not covered under sub-clause (I), the administering authority may grant licence based on a comparative evaluation of matters stated in items (i) to (iv) of the proviso to sub-clause (I).
(4) The period for which an exploration licence may be granted shall not exceed three years.
(5) An exploration licence granted under sub-section (1) may be renewed for a period not exceeding two years if, after a review, the administering authority is satisfied that the licensee has been conducting the exploration operation in accordance with the work programme approved by the administering authority regarding such licence and longer period of renewal of the licence is considered necessary to enable the licensee to complete exploration.
(6) The area that may be granted under exploration licence shall not exceed a block of thirty minutes latitude by thirty minutes longitude:
Provided that if the administering authority is of the opinion that in the interest of the development of any mineral, it is necessary so to do, it may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, permit any person to acquire an area in excess of the area specified in this sub-section.