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Survey to locate India’s hidden mineral deposits begins next month, three foreign firms awarded contract

Survey to locate India’s hidden mineral deposits begins next month, three foreign firms awarded contract
Aero-geophysical survey is conducted to create a database of concealed structural and geological features.
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The work on India’s first aero-geophysical survey to locate hidden mineral resources is likely to begin early next month as the government has awarded the contract to three foreign players.

“We have awarded work to Canada-based McPhar International Pvt Ltd, US-based IIC Technologies Ltd and Kazakhstan-based Geoken LLP for conducting aero-geophysical survey in four blocks spread across peninsular India. These companies will be doing the survey across 755,421km,” said a senior government official, requesting anonymity.

Aero-geophysical survey is conducted to create a database of concealed structural and geological features, which helps in tracing hidden mineral reserves. It generally employs magnetic, electromagnetic and radiometric sensors to prepare geophysical maps of concealed deposits.

InfraCircle was first to report on 13 December that the government plans to bring on board a foreign partner to conduct aero-geophysical survey, in order to harness its mineral reserves.

Another government official, who did not wish to be named, said McPhar International has been awarded two blocks for the survey, while the remaining companies have been awarded one block each.

“These global firms will bring their own aircraft for the survey work. So, they need clearances from aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and home ministry, which is under process,” said the second official quoted above, further adding that the work will start early next month.

He further said, “The aero-geophysical survey will help in finding reserves of major minerals, including copper, silver, gold, zinc and others, which have not been exploited so far. This will help attract private investment in a big way as clarity on reserves will be a key for carrying out mining activities. Also, the role of technology providers in such mining will be immense.” The survey will also help in getting detailed information on groundwater reserves.

“India has huge geologic potential for mineral resources, but has so far under-invested in basic geologic and geophysical surveys. This is a step in the right direction and will help policy makers and mining company’s take mineral exploration forward,” said Tom Albanese, CEO, Vedanta.

Queries emailed to ministry of mines, McPhar International, IIC Technologies, and Geoken LLP on 5 January remained unanswered.

Experts welcomed the move. “Aero physical survey was a must to find out mineral deposits for future use. Minerals at surface have been exhausted and with this kind of survey, new reserves can be explored which can attract a lot more private investments,” said Naresh Chandra Pant, professor at department of geology, University of Delhi.

State-run Geological Survey of India (GSI) is not engaged in such surveys. However, Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research, a body under the department of atomic energy, does airborne survey to find uranium deposits. This event is taking place at a time when the government is taking measures to help stressed metal companies, including steel and aluminum, which are burdened by structural demand slowdown and surge in cheap imports from countries such as China and South Korea.

 

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