Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Mineral Development Corporation Limited (NMDC) to conduct drone-based mineral exploration.
NMDC and IIT Kharagpur, under the MoU, will develop spectral products, methods and algorithms for usage of drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for mining. The development of software spectral tools for mineral excavation and capacity building programmes on mining technology are also planned as part of the collaboration.
The singing of the MoU took place over a virtual platform. Sumit Deb, chief managing director (CMD), NMDC; Amitava Mukherjee, director (Finance), NMDC; Somnath Nandi, director (Technical), NMDC; DK Mohanty, director (Production), NMDC and professors from IIT Kharagpur attended the virtual meet. On behalf of NMDC, Mohanty signed the MoU and SP Sharma, head of department (HoD), Department of Geology & Geophysics and Samir K Pal, HoD, Department of Mining Engineering signed the MoU on behalf of the institute.
Speaking on the occasion, Deb said, “NMDC would be the first CPSE in India to conduct drone-based geophysical surveys and hyperspectral studies for mineral exploration in the country. NMDC’s tie-up with IIT-Kharagpur will open a new chapter and set a benchmark in the field of mineral exploration for the nation.”
NMDC is a central public sector enterprise (CPSE) under the ministry of steel that has been exploring a wide range of minerals including copper, rock phosphate, limestone, magnesite, diamond, tungsten and beach sands for over six decades. It is India’s largest iron ore producer.
The CPSE has been exploring various minerals in states like Madhya Pradesh and for diamonds in the Beloda-Belmundi block in Chhattisgarh. Through the MoU with IIT Kharagpur, NMDC will be the first CPSE to use space geophysics in the central Indian diamond province. It will also be the first CPSE to use online monitoring of exploration of data on the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) hosted national Geoportal, Bhuvan.
The MoU is a step by the government of India to regulate and monitor drone operations in fields like agriculture, urban planning, forestry, mining, disaster management, surveillance and transport.