Moving with the changing times is how one keeps ahead, and India's Ministry of Mines seems to have got this one correctly. The ministry has decided to give a major push to using of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in order to increase India’s mining sector efficiency.

Whether it is area inspection, preparation and monitoring of mining plans, production and dispatch, or even checking and curbing illegal mining, drones can prove to be effective in every mining process.

Piyush Goyal, Union minister of mines, who is also incharge of power, RE and coal ministries, recently posted a tweet about utilisation of drone technology by Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL) in geological mapping to help determine its potential in regional exploration of greenfield land.

The minister has reportedly asked mining companies in the country to make use of all the modern and latest technologies that would help the future of mining in India.

In addition to asking the country's state governments and public sector mining units into focusing on exploring the usage and deployment of drone technology in their respective organisations, the ministry has also ordered MECL, its exploration company, to purchase one or two drones soon and start using them in order to set an example for others to follow their lead.

At a recently held event, Balvinder Kumar, union mines secretary, asked Tata Steel to showcase the usage of the drones technology at its Noamundi Iron Mine (NIM), which is the first mine in the country to have successfully introduced drone in mine monitoring.

Bengaluru- based firm Skylark Drones, which specializes in drone application in various industries conducted the event. In addition to the union mines secretary, the event also saw the presence of some officials from Tata Steel and India Bureau of Mines.

“We have initiated mining surveillance system using space technology along with a mobile app. This will help in stopping illegal mining, monitoring mining plan, production, dispatch and royalty payment. We requested Tata Steel to demonstrate it in Noamundi iron mine,” said the secretary at the Skylark Drones organised event.

While mining sector has started thinking about drone-related possibilities in the field, power sector has already been extensively making use of drones and helicopters to execute transmission projects in extremely difficult terrains and much ahead of time.

Since assuming office, Minister Goyal has laid a lot of focus on using the latest technology in order to increase the efficiency of the Indian mining sector and lift it to an international level.

Balvinder Kumar recently gave a statement to DefenceAcviationPost that he had asked all Public Service Units (PSUs) including National Aluminium Company, Hindustan Copper Limited, National Mineral Development Corporation, Steel Authority of India Limited, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited, Bharat Gold Mines Limited and MOIL to start making use of drones to significantly cut down on the time taken to complete a project.

A number of academic institutions of the country like the IITs are also contributing towards helping the mining ministry and PSUs in adopting the drones technology and how they can be designed as per the requirements of a mining organisation.

While Indian mining industry has started taking baby steps towards making use of drones in mining sector, globally, the usage of drones in mining is quite popular. For example, Rio Tinto, a global mining major, has been using drones to survey its mining pits for quite sometime now.


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