KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) - The Geological Survey of India (GSI) and the British Geological Survey (BGS) have entered into a collaboration contract under which BGS would conduct a major airborne geophysical survey over land and sea.
BGS International, a BGS subsidiary, would execute the airborne geophysical survey project that would include setting technical specifications; the appointment of contractors with the required technical capabilities; and the conduct of analyses of the country’s entire onshore and offshore territories, to determine reserves of existing mineral resources and enable the discovery of new ones, a GSI official said.
The collaboration with BGS was the beginning of India’s Mines Ministry’s ambitious $1.4-billion project to be implemented during the 2012 to 2017 period, to bridge the technological gap its mineral resources exploration capacity and thereby increase the share of mining in gross domestic product (GDP) to 7.7% from 2.2% at present.
Of the $1.4-billion earmarked for exploration projects, GSI has been allocated $938-million, $10-million has gone to the Indian Bureau of Mines and $3.6-million to the Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited, which operates under the Mines Ministry.
The GSI needed BGS International’s expertise in designing technical specifications, in choosing contractors for high-resolution airborne surveys covering the entire country, and in the measuring properties of rock, using sensors, all of which were aimed at discovering new mineral deposits, the official said.
The total area to be covered by the airborne surveys has been estimated at five-million square kilometers, he added.
According to a Working Note on GSI’s exploratory investments over the next five years, “the technological gaps in exploration have been identified, which include absence of detailed structural geophysical and geochemical data, use of obsolete and time-consuming drilling equipment and techniques, lack of offshore drilling technology, [and] lack of use of hyperspectral remote sensing and three-dimensional seismic surveys to provide detailed geological and mineral mapping capability both at regional as well as project scales”.
While the GSI did have an Airborne Mineral Surveys & Exploration wing, the equipment, hardware and airborne capabilities needed for the efficient conduct of aerogeophysical surveys employing magnetic, electromagnetic and radiometric sensors; data processing; and the preparation of geophysical anomaly, were antiquated, and collaboration with BGS International would plug these deficiencies, a Mines Ministry official said.
The GSI has pointed out in a note to the Mines Ministry that low-altitude aerogeophysical surveys through fixed-wing aircraft are not possible in hilly terrains and, therefore, it required the capability to carry out heliborne aerogeophysical surveys to cover the Himalayas, the Western and Eastern Ghats mountain ranges, the north-eastern states and the Vindhyan and Satpura mountain ranges, which totalled about 54 000 km2.