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AI/ML to Make Mineral Mining in Odisha, India Safer

The Steel and Mines Minister for Odisha, Prafulla Mallik, recently said that the state will make mining for minerals safer and more efficient by using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and the Internet of things (IoT). He noted that cutting-edge exploration technology using computer vision, sensing applications, and predictive monitoring systems enhance workers’ safety.

Speaking at an event called ‘Technological and Digital Advancements in Mining and Mineral Beneficiation’, Mallik highlighted the efficient means of extracting value from “increasingly low-grade deposits”. Harnessing technology is imperative to reducing potential harm and boosting productivity. The impact of various digital initiatives within the sector and the value they could create for the industry were assessed during the event. Participants also discussed digital innovations that have the greatest potential to create value for the mining and metals industry over the next decade.

As per an article by the government’s AI portal, there is a need for a well-developed mining and mineral beneficiation industry in the country as it provides important raw material to many sectors that are the backbone of economic development. The Odisha government has adapted to the changing technologies in mining and implemented an IT-based mineral administration through a software application called Integrated Mines and Mineral Management System (i3MS) a few years ago. An official explained that the introduction of technology in mining has gained paramount importance over the years to enhance safety, environmental awareness, and production. An industry expert noted that greater use of minerals in existing and emerging applications, coupled with new technologies, could lead to a paradigm shift in the way minerals are produced and consumed in the future.

Sensors, digital twins, drones, AI algorithms, and control systems can help mining companies reduce manual labour and errors, increase productivity, facilitate decision making, bridge gaps in team collaboration and equipment utilisation, prevent accidents, and better predict market demand. AI algorithms streamline ore fragmentation assessment, pre-and post-blast surveys, and site inspections in underground and open-pit mines using satellite imagery, aerial photographs, and 3D maps.

Government agencies and research institutes have been researching and implementing technologies in the mining sector. In March, the National Mineral Development Corporation Ltd (NMDC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur (IIT-Kharagpur) for drone-based mineral excavation. NMDC, which is the country’s biggest iron ore public sector enterprise, and IIT-Kharagpur will develop software, products, methods, and algorithms for mineral exploration using drones (unmanned aerial vehicles). They will also collaborate on capacity-building training programmes on mining technology.

As OpenGov Asia reported, the partnership makes NMDC the first central public sector enterprise (CPSE) in India to carry out drone-based geophysical observations and hyperspectral studies in mineral research. For the last 60 years, NMDC has been mining minerals like copper, rock phosphate, limestone, magnesite, diamond, and tungsten, among others from the reconnaissance G4 level to the detailed G1 level of the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources. NMDC is also the first CPSE to use space geophysics in the central Indian diamond province and the first to use the online monitoring of exploration of data on the BHUVAN platform. NMDC is increasingly relying on technological innovation and the digitalisation of its database on mineral exploration and mining.

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