The 63rd Central Geological Programming Board (CGPB) meeting was held on 22nd January 2024 at Kushabhau Thakre International Convention Centre (Minto Hall), Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Shri V.L. Kantha Rao, IAS, Secretary to the Govt. of India, Ministry of Mines (MoM). Shri Sanjay Lohiya, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Mines, and Shri Janardan Prasad, Director General, GSI were the other dignitaries gracing the occasion.
Senior functionaries of different Ministries, State Directorates of Mining & Geology, PSUs, representatives from the private mining industry, Mining associations, and other stakeholders attended the meeting.
The proposed Annual Programme for the ensuing Field Season year 2024-25 was placed before the Board for discussion. During the ensuing year 2024-25 GSI has formulated about 1055 scientific programs for the year 2024-25, which include 392 Mineral Development projects (G2; G3; G4; and Offshore Explorations) that have the potential to generate auctionable mineral blocks in the near future. 133 projects with mineral bias or Mineral Discovery Projects (RMT; Research Project; C-MAP; GT; MPA; Multispectral/Hyperspectral projects) have the potential to generate promising areas for future exploration in the G4 stage. Within the exploration activity, the major thrust has been given on the exploration of strategic & critical and fertilizer minerals. A total of 188 projects on these strategically important mineral commodities like REE, RM, Graphite, Lithium, Vanadium PGE, etc. have been approved for the year 2024-25, which is almost a jump of 50% from the previous year’s target.
Also, 111 projects under Natural Hazard Studies/Public Good Geoscience have been taken having societal benefits. Among these, 25 programmes are being taken up on State request/Disaster Management Authorities which includes programme mostly covering Natural Hazards, and 43 programmes are in collaboration with universities/agencies / under the sponsorship of different authorities like IITs, NGRI, DRDO, NRSC-ISRO, University of Hyderabad, ASI, CGWB Ministry of Jal Shakti, SJVNL, NWDA, Indian Railways, BRO and State Irrigation Departments, etc.
Besides, the approval of the FSP items of GSI, the Report on Geological & Geotechnical investigation of Joshimath Township, Chamoli District was also unveiled by Shri V.L. Kantha Rao, Secretary, Ministry of Mines for handing it over to Uttarakhand Govt. The Mineral Map of the newly carved out UT of Ladakh was also released on this occasion along with other significant publications of GSI.
During his address to the gathering Shri V. L. Kantha Rao, Secretary, Mines and Chairman CGPB mentioned the importance of scientific rigor in the mining sector. He urged GSI and other exploration agencies to increase the pace of exploration and emphasized on exploration of Critical Minerals. He also urged the State Governments to be more aggressive in the implementation of exploration projects through NMET funding. He requested stakeholders to make use of geoscience data available in the NGDR portal for a smooth exploration process.
In the post-lunch session of the meeting, a two-hour session was earmarked for the recently launched National Geoscience Data Repository (NGDR) portal, to brief stakeholders about this cloud-based portal, that will host all pre-competitive baseline geological data and mineral exploration data as a single point of truth, making it available to all participants in the mineral and mining sectors. This repository is designed for the utilization of cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML) by Start-ups, private mining companies, and other exploration agencies for identifying subtle patterns and relationships within vast datasets, terrain modelling etc. and has the capabilities to enhance the pace of mineral exploration significantly in near future.
Shri V.L. Kantha Rao, Secretary, Ministry of Mines in the presence of senior officials inaugurated an Exhibition on the theme, “Mining and Beyond”, in which GSI, PSUs, DMFs, major mining companies, private exploration agencies, startups, Madhya Pradesh Government showcased their achievements. PSUs like Manganese Ore India Ltd. (MOIL), Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL), National Aluminum Company Ltd. (NALCO), and Mineral Exploration Consultancy Ltd. (MECL) showcased their best practices and technical advancements in this exhibition. While companies like HCL, NALCO, and HZL gave the visitors a feel of mining and mineral processing through their VR system, Hindalco through VR showcased their project of sustainable mining. BALCO and Tata Steel also participated in the exhibition. The students of the engineering colleges of Bhopal also visited the exhibition and got first-hand exposure to the mining sector.