Q: What Fundamental rules you think are being ignored by Indian explorers? Posted bygeoamitAugust 3, 2020Posted inQ&A Share this:TwitterFacebookMorePrintLinkedInRedditTelegramWhatsAppSkypeEmailLike this:Like Loading... Related
4 thoughts on “Q: What Fundamental rules you think are being ignored by Indian explorers?”
Sustainable growth in the Minerals sector is possible only when Exploration keeps replenishing the exhausted Mineral Resources/Reserves. Since MIneral Resources in general are non-renewable and finite, subject to market price, extractive technologies and limitations placed by Environmental Laws, there would come a day when the Resources of a mineral or some minerals will not be available.
Transparency in administration of mineral resources can be achieved by adaopting time-tested business-friendly laws and strictly time-bound grant of licences. Examples of efficient management of Exploration and Mining have been set by Australia, the US., Canada and many other countries. Unfortunately, in India, due to frequent amendments to the Mines & Minerals Act and non-adhearance to mandated time lines in the matter of grant of licences and related clearances have thwarted the growth of the minerals sector and forced the country to depend upon import of even those minerals whose Resources and potential for new discoveries have been amply demonstrated by the GSI, MECL and Private Exploration Companies.
Changes to adminstrative structure of Institutions such as the Ministry of Mines, Govt of India and Deaprtments of Mines & Geology at the State level as well as changes to the extant Act & Rules governing the grant of Licences, Leases and environmental clearances are required to achieve the Goals or Vision and Self Sufficiency in minerals.
Reg. changes to the admin structure of The Ministry of Mines and the State Deparatments of Mines and Geology, they shall be headed by a technically competent person and not by the IAS. Regarding changes to the Act the following are my thoughts;
In the last 5 years, Mines and Geology Departments in most of the States have resorted to cherry picking of areas for auctioning. The average rate of auctioning of blocks for ML & CL, all India, is a trivial 2 per month in the last 5 years!!. Karnataka has not granted even one CL in the last 5 years. With regard to large area reconnaissance exploration there were no takers to NERP, not even one, in the last 5 years!!. The States also did not clear the pre-2015 back log of PLs and MLs under 10A(2)(b) provision. This back log should be cleared on top priority to serve the urgency for creating jobs and reduce the dependency on imports. Overall, the amended MMDR Act-2015 has killed commercial mineral exploration and led to skewed development of mineral resources in the country. Efforts to reduce imports have remained on paper. New mineral resource discoveries did not happen. There were years of delay in granting statutory clearances such as FC/EC. These are good enough reasons to abandon the auction-mode of granting license for mining and prospecting, at the least, for grant of CL (seamless RP-PL-ML).
The State Mines & Geology Departments are NOT geared up to fast-paced packaging of OGP (Obvious Geological Potential) areas falling within their State. The total area of the OGP is 571,000 sq km. as stated in the NMEP document. It is 6,44,415 as per MoM’s publication titled “Exploration and Mining Opportunities in India-An Investor Guide, dt.Aug.2015 and NMEP Doc. Mining is undertaken in only about 2% of the OGP. If we assume that the States would prefer to Auction 25sqkm blocks for grant of a CL, it would divide 571,000 sq km into 22,800 blocks. If the States prefer to grant CL of say 100 sq km area then, there would be 5,710 blocks to Auction!! Packaging of such large number by the GSI and preparing documentation by the States is a huge task even over the next 5 years. All the States depend upon GSI to do the “Packaging” job. The Mineral Resources which were put on auction were classified on the basis of the obsolete UNFC-1997!!.
Directors of Mines & Geology of several States have often expressed difficulty in packaging & pricing mineral-bearing areas for Auctioning for CL. The process of “Packaging” is lengthy depending upon whether it is for ML or CL as it involves Prospect-scale mapping, trenching, drilling, Resource modelling, Resource estimation, Resource classification and finally pricing and documentation. FCFS would, at once, transfer all these jobs to the Private Sector and PSUs who would either pick up potential mineral-bearing ground on the basis of knowledge generated by the GSI or State DGMs or on their own. Current Resource-Nationalism statute keeps investors waiting endlessly for State Governments to announce the areas available for ML or CL. Oversees players have lost interest. FDI into mineral exploration has dried up. Even big players have found it difficult to bid for & share revenue on a CL block because, even before defining a mineable Resource the bidder for CL had to commit for revenue sharing!!
For all the above reasons the Auction route for exploration and mining of Non-bulk, so called deep-seated metals & minerals (other than the 5 Notified Minerals), has remained a hurdle for ease of starting exploration and mining business in the country. India is not in a position to wait. It has to act fast to “Make India Self Reliant” in minerals, at least to an appreciable extent. 23% is reported to be the rate of current rural unemployment. There is pressure to create lakhs of jobs and work towards economic upturn.
The Hon’ble Finance Minister, while speaking on Reforms in Minerals Sector referred to the Ministry’s intent of introducing “structural reforms to boost growth, employment and bring state-of-the-art technology especially in exploration through introduction of a seamless composite exploration-cum-mining-cum-production regime.” That is the way to progress, not the revenue-obsessed Auction mode. Resource Maximization, Production Maximization and Maximization of Corporate Tax payers should be the Mantra. The Ministry should restrict the Auction route to unencumbered Mineral Resource Blocks.
The Act is currently over crowded with amendments. All the amendments to the MMDR Act-1957 and MC Rules-1960 and the many new Rules promulgated post-2015 should be consolidated into one comprehensive Act and one book of Rules.
Declare all Mineral Resource-bearing areas as NO GO for Non-Mineral purposes: Mineral deposits by their very nature are site-specific which means, unlike forests, you cannot “grow” them where you want. They got to be mined where they are found. Quantified Mineral Resources and measured blocks of land identified by any agency as potential for prospecting for any metalliferous mineral shall be declared as NO GO for non-mineral purposes other than Defence of India projects. Such declaration of Mineral No Go areas should help MOEFCC & PCBs to accord Cluster-wise or Corridor-wise FC and EC.
If these are put in place quickly, I strongly believe that within the next 5 years, our country would be able to make many new mineral discoveries, enhance National Inventory of Mineral Resources and develop hundreds of new Mines of both metalliferous and non-metalliferous Mineral Resources alongside the existing mines. Every mine would serve as a CSR center and create an economic ripple effect. The mines would also serve as Agricultural Extension Service Centers as well as Centers of Industrial Skill development, the beneficial impact of which on rural India could be extraordinary.
Major part of the India is unexplored. Exploration in India needs to be modernized. Whatever major discoveries are there either these are based on old workings/ by chance/ brownfield. To bring out more discoveries-
1. Remote sensing data must be used for alteration mapping.
2. Geologist should have complete faith in geophysics data, keeping in mind the usual limitations of geophysics.
3. Geologists should be very well trained in to geophysics also and vice versa.
4. Applied research is lacking.
4. Introduction of latest tools in to exploration like LA-ICP-MS will help in Applied Research. It should be available to more exploration institutions.
5. University level research should have focus on the support in the exploration.
6. In the current regime exploration is seized by the government. Exploration should be liberalized as it is a kind of knowedge industry and should be free from clutches of the government.
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Dr Somani, my replies are keyed to your replies numbered in serial order.
1) Major part of the India is unexplored. Exploration in India needs to be modernized. Whatever major discoveries are there either these are based on old workings/ by chance/ brownfield.
Reply by Vasu: It is incorrect to say that a major part of India is unexplored. A major part of India has Indeed been explored by GSI, AMD, MECL,Pvt explorers and some PSUs in that order of contribution. Mapping. geochem sampling and high level airborne multisensor surveys and selective high resolution geg.phy. surveys have been carried out covering a large part of the Cratonic areas, barring the Himalayas. These surveys have not only resulted in the discovery of innumerable mineral/metal occurrences, prospects and Mineral Resources but also have laid a good platform of technical data. Lack of a far sighted mineral policy and corresponding Acts, Rules and simplified Procedures of clearances have stiffled the opportunities of encashing the enormous basic geoscintific data and conversion of mineral discoveries and prospects into Mineral Resource blocks and Resources into Reserves and productive mines.
To bring out more discoveries;
2). Remote sensing data must be used for alteration mapping.
VASU Reply: ASTER, Hyperspectral, Satellite thematic images have been used in the past and are being used but on small scale for the fact that the extant Act and Rules governing grant of licences for exploration is highly unattractive to private explorers.
3). Geologist should have complete faith in geophysics data, keeping in mind the usual limitations of geophysics.
VASU REPLY: Why is this doubt? Geologists do have total faith in geophysical data. Geologists in both Govt organizations and Private exploration companies are quick to use geophysical data. They have used in the past. Govt has to adopt facilitatory and investor friendly laws and grant licences in a time bound manner.
4). Geologists should be very well trained in to geophysics also and vice versa.
VASU REPLY: There is no such need. Each one should be good in his own professional field and work as a Team.
5). Applied research is lacking.
VASU REPLY: what does this mean?. Where is it lacking? Exploration companies play their game well equipped. They can’t afford to waste their money.
6). Introduction of latest tools in to exploration like LA-ICP-MS will help in Applied Research. It should be available to more exploration institutions.
VASU REPLY: The country is not fully using modern mineral analytical facilities existing in both government and private agencies. There is hardly any sample generation in the country other than a few thousand every year by govt geological survey agencies.
7). University level research should have focus on the support in the exploration.
VASU REPLY: There is hardly any mineral exploration proggrammes going in the country. How do you expect research fellows in universities to access drill cores and interact with Geologists in exploration agencies??
8). In the current regime exploration is seized by the government. Exploration should be liberalized as it is a kind of knowedge industry and should be free from clutches of the government.
VASU REPLY: There you are. Spot on. I totally agree with you.
According to me fundamental rules which are being ignored by Indian explorers is multi-pronged approach. There should be multidimensional approach starting from reconniatory survey through satellite imageries followed by ground check by geological mapping and mark anamolous area on a layer of GIS. Anamolous zones on different layers of geochemical ,geophysical etc. All the anamolous zones in each layer should be superimposed and common intersection of anamolous zones shuld be the target area for detailed exploration. Chemical analysis of all elements possible should carried out on the samples based on the results of analysis received should decide the main element of the deposit and rest may be utilised as byproduct to enhance the economics of the deposit. All near surface deposits which have surface encrustations have already been explored and probably mined also. The approach suggested by me should be applied for hidden deep seated deposits. Anil Kumar Mehrotra
On Mon, 3 Aug, 2020, 10:16 PM Mineral Exploration Academy, wrote:
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