New Delhi: The government has put forth a proposal to fully automate the mining sector in India, as it seeks to eliminate discrepancies in mineral grades and ensure accurate valuation for calculating royalty revenue and auction premiums for states.
In line with this objective, the ministry of mines has released a consultation paper, seeking inputs from states before finalizing the rules under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, which will serve as the governing framework for nationwide mining operations.
The consultation paper draws on the recommendations of a committee constituted by the ministry to address concerns regarding the misclassification of iron ore and other minerals.
According to the committee’s recommendations, states must implement an information technology-based grade information system at all mines, incorporating both backward and forward linkages for sample analysis and for issuing transport permits.This system is expected to streamline the entire mining and transportation process, and make it more efficient.
The panel also proposed to adopt pulsed fast thermal neutron activation (PFTNA) analysers, which enable on-the-spot sampling and grading of minerals.
Additionally, it recommended the use of continuous online analysers mounted on cross belt conveyors to facilitate rapid sorting of minerals. These analysers can use techniques such as laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, pulsed fast and thermal neutron activation technology, prompt gamma neutron activation analysis, or X-Ray Fluorescence.
The panel also suggested auger-based auto samplers as it would prevent misclassification of ores during the mining process.
The mines ministry is in the process of finalizing the rules, which would be uniformly implemented by all states, to ensure smoother mining operations and transportation with minimal delays— from mineral production to dispatch.
Another objective is to prevent grade discrepancies that could have an adverse impact on royalty earnings, auction premiums, and other payments to state governments.
The committee also emphasized the adoption of technology in transporting minerals, including the use of GPS-enabled vehicles and RFID tagging, seeking to enhance tracking and monitoring capabilities. Besides geo-fencing of mining areas will be made mandatory to prevent unauthorized activities and potential pilferage.
Besides, the ministry is also considering a proposal to leverage blockchain technology for accurate accounting of mineral movement from the mines to designated factories and ports. The ministry said by employing blockchain, states will be able to maintain secure and transparent record of each step in the supply chain in real time to increase transparency, efficiency and security among network participants.
Blockchain technology is likely to be implemented in phases. Initially, a pilot will be run for high-value minerals that have fewer mines and end-users, like gold, zinc and copper. Drawing from the lessons of the pilot, a model will subsequently be replicated across other mines and minerals.