New MCDR Rules for Indian Mines - Everything you need to know

A recent amendment was made to India's MCDR Rules (The Mineral Conservation and Development Amendment). As per the MCDR Rules, all mines in India need to mandatorily carry out Drone Survey and submit digital images [digital elevation model (DEM) and Orthomosaic of the mining area to the controller general. This will not only improve mine planning practices, security and safety in the mines but also ensure better supervision of mining operations. The amendment indicates a clear signal that the Government of India intends to ensure efficient mine operations within the lease area by implementing the latest Drone Survey technology.

Mines stretch over acres of land. Manually surveying mines to keep an eye on the work being done is not always practically feasible. Mining surveys include much more than just the digging of mine shafts and galleries for the calculation of rock volume. The basic principles of mining surveys have remained largely unchanged for decades. But, science and technological advancements have altered the surveying tools & techniques. One such technological advancement is drone technology.

Drones have emerged as an unconventional method of mine surveying which ensures safety, saves cost and conducts quick aerial surveys for data collection. Mines are usually located in remote areas. In places where human access is difficult. Drones help surveyors and engineers to capture calculated and accurate data about mine development and excavations.

MCDR Rules Overview

The MCDR rules have been framed after extensive consultations with state governments, industry associations, miners, other stakeholders and general public,

The regulatory framework for the mining industry is governed by both Central and State laws by virtue of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.  The minerals are divided into two categories, namely major minerals and minor minerals. 

Accordingly, following are the legislations governing the mining sector in India:

  • Mines Act, 1952 and Mines Rules, 1955 – To regulate labour and safety in mines;
  • Mines & Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (“MMDR Act”) – A principal legislation for the development and regulation of mines and minerals in India. Following are rules framed by Central Government under MMDR Act:
  • Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 (“MCR”)
  • Mineral Conservation & Development Rules, 1988 (“MCDR”)
  • The Minerals (Other than Atomic and Hydro Carbons Energy Minerals) Concession Rules, 2016 (“MCR, 2016”)
  • Offshore Areas Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002 (“OAMDR Act”) and Offshore Areas Mineral Concession Rules, 2006 – To provide for the development and regulation of mineral resources in the territorial waters, continental shelf, exclusive economic zone, and other maritime zones of India; and
  • Rules framed by State Government framed under MMDR Act for governing minor minerals such as Maharashtra Minor Minerals Extraction (Development and Regulation) Rules, 2013.

The new rules have been inserted to provide for submission of digital images of mining area by lessees and Letter of Intent holders.

Lessees with annual excavation plan of 1 million tonne or more or having leased area of 50 hectare or more need to mandatorily submit drone survey images of leased area and up to 100 meters outside the lease boundary each year.

The New MCDR Rules 2021 consist the following key amendments:

A. Compulsory Drone Survey

B. Digital Image Submission

C. Reduction of Compliance Burden

D. Penalty Provisions

E. Financial Assurance

F. Increased Employment Opportunity

Click here to download the "Full Details of new MCDR Rules for Indian Mines"

How the mining Industry is being revolutionised with drone intelligence

Mining automation

Over the last few years, there has been immense environmental, social and resource-based pressure on the mining industry to change the way it operates. The first step that this industry took in this direction is the effective planning and conduction of the initial survey. This survey carries out the following activities:

  • Exploring the mines
  • Physical terrain mapping for land use segregation
  • Contour mapping
  • 3D modelling
  • Terrain modelling

The pre-planning and mapping from site surveys give near accurate results but consume a significant amount of time. Technical expertise and compatible equipment have emerged as the key players to create an impact with automation.

The steps involved in the mining automation process are:

  1. Understanding the current state of the process

Robot-induced automation allows smooth procedures carried out with improved process efficiency. Long process durations, blockages and high-variation processes are identified to ensure that the processes are Robotic Process Automation (RPA) ready. The auto-generated, real-time process flowcharts ease out the complex procedures of mining.

Coupled with the RPA, drone technology helps save a lot of time. These multi-purpose machines hover over vast areas of land and capture exact images with advanced cameras. Did you know that a drone can survey an area of 100 sq km in just about 8 days?

  1. Optimized and streamlined process

It is essential to know which process requires an RPA and which one doesn’t. If you automate every single process and it behaves differently than what you had been expecting, you’ll run into unpredictable problems. Even though almost 80% of the RPA processes perform as per your expectations, manually assigning work for automation purposes is essential. For reaping maximum benefits from automation, ensure the creation of high volumes per variation.

  1. Identification for RPA implementation

Programming the workflow execution, keeping the regular bottlenecks in mind, helps in correcting manual errors. This step ensures higher chances of RPA process success with the help of Process Mining Algorithms that ease

Drone Survey and mapping

The mining industry constantly needs to implement aerial surveying and mapping. This process is quite cumbersome. High-quality drones, with a qualified pilot on-site, ensure detailed aerial photography. You can transform the GIS (Geospatial Information Systems) data captured by drones into 3D models and trustworthy ortho-images with substantial volumetric measurements with the help of:

  • High resolution geospatial point-cloud data scans
  • Spatially referenced photographic and video data
  • Geological models
  • Geo-metallurgical exploration data
  • Geographic information systems
  • Mine planning information
  • Engineering/CAD models
  • Spatially referenced documents
  • Automated services
  • Production systems data

One of the most life-threatening operations involved in mining is mining exploration. The drone technology enables efficient exploration by transforming the survey information into high resolution ortho-mosaic, 3D point cloud, Digital Terrain Model (DTM) and Digital Elevation Model (DEM) maps.

The aerial data of mining sites are surveyed with the help of drones for better planning, productivity, implementation and inventory management. Survey drones are engineered to take pictures of the mines from various angles. This data can further be processed through comprehensive photogrammetry software for creating geo-tagged 3D maps, contour lines and digital surface models.

Benefits of using drones in mining:

  • UAVs capture significant data points as compared to traditional surveying and inspection methods, hence aiding mining industries with higher accuracy.
  • Drone surveys cut down on the time required for data collection.
  • The aerial and drone photography clicks higher-resolution pictures.
  • Mining operations tend to have increased worker efficiency with the help of drones.
  • Mining companies save on several costs by investing in good quality drone services.
  • Drones ensure enhanced worker security while mine mapping, surveying, inspection and monitoring.

Starting Your Drone Program

Skylark Drones is committed to helping mining companies in India start their drone programs and enable them to comply to the new MCDR rules

What do you get as a part of Skylark’s MCDR program?

  • Free processing and outputs for the first survey of the first work-site (pay only for the Drone + operator)

  • A dedicated customer support team of GIS experts to guide you through the entire process

  • Surface Plan Updation, Orthomosaic Map, Spot levels, DEMs, Contours etc
  • Transparent Pricing
  • 24x7 on-field support

Know More about Skylark Drone's MCDR Program

Skylark Drones's Spectra specializes in drone application across many sectors, including mining. Technological advancements like drones are expected to unleash India’s vast and untapped mining reserves. The Indian Government is taking quick steps to leverage drone technology for a seamless juxtaposition of the mining and unscrewed aviation industries.

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