Concerned about rampant illegal mining in several mineral-rich states of the country, the ministry of mines is planning to make use of indigenous space technology to protect mineral resources, a top ministry official said.
“We are talking to the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) about using remote sensing satellites and GPS technology to check illegal mining,” mines secretary Balwinder Kumar said.
PM Narendra Modi on September 7 directed various ministries to make use of space-based technology in collaboration with Isro for the benefit of the common man. “We have asked the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) under the ministry of mines to enter into an MoU with Isro to utilise its space applications for monitoring mining activity and study its impact to protect the environment,” he said.
The ministry has called for a meeting in this regard in New Delhi on October 1, where officials of Isro have been invited to work out modalities, Kumar told FE on the sidelines of an international mining conference, organised by the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries and mines ministry. IBM is engaged in regulation and scientific development of mineral resources and protects environment of mines other than coal, petroleum and natural gas, atomic minerals and minor minerals.
It may be recalled that widespread illegal mining in Karnataka and Goa led to the closure of mining in both states in recent years. The matter led to the intervention of the Supreme Court and its body the central empowered committee recommending suspension of mining and reforms in the sector. While mining has resumed partially in Karnataka, it is yet to start in Goa.
The city-based space agency will enhance its satellite capacity to meet the needs of the mining sector in coordination with states.
Kumar said the ministry has asked IBM to have a mobile app to take production figures from all mining lessees in a transparent manner. He said the ministry has floated request for proposal for appointing a consultant to carry out an airborne survey spread over 800,000 sqkm to identify new mineral deposits. Over three years, detailed geo-physical and electro-magnetic surveys will be conducted to identify new deposits. Based on the exploration studies, new mining deposits will be discovered in the next three to seven years, he said.