Govt to carry out air-borne survey of areas with potential resources

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New Delhi | Published: September 23, 2015 12:26:04 AM

Given the vast scope to enhance the exploration jobs for minerals, the mines ministry is set to carry out an air-borne geo-physical survey of the country's potential resource-bearing area estimated to be 8 lakh sq km.

Given the vast scope to enhance the exploration jobs for minerals, the mines ministry is set to carry out an air-borne geo-physical survey of the country’s potential resource-bearing area estimated to be 8 lakh sq km. The exercise is estimated to cost around Rs 1,500 crore.

“For the first time, India will be carrying out such a massive air-borne geo-physical survey. It will help us to understand the mining potential in the country,” mines secretary Balvinder Kumar told FE.

Government sources said the ministry has already floated a global tender inviting bids from companies having expertise in the field. It has met the potential bidders recently for informal interactions. The ministry may take a couple of months to select the successful bidder.

Of the 8 lakh sq km of potentially resource-bearing area, exploration work has so far been done in just 10% of it. And mining is currently being conducted in just 1% of the total potential area.

This is one reason why the contribution of the mining and quarrying sector to the country’s GDP has remained stagnant at less than 3% for some 15 years. Often compared with India in terms of geological potential, Australia has already done 100% of the exploration work in its mineral-bearing areas.

Two state-run institutes — Geological Survey of India and Mineral Exploration Corporation of India — have been doing the exploration work so far. However, they could not live up to expectations due to paucity of funds and a lack of policy focus on catching up with the world standards. Meanwhile, the government has recently allowed state-run firm having expertise in the mining activity to carry out the exploration work as well.

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