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MRIS version 1.0:
A prototype Mineral Resource Information System

P. K. Champati ray
Indian Institute of Remote Sensing,
4-Kalidas Road, Dehradun-248001 (India)

Abhishek Ayachi
A/C 213 Ashadeep,
Aghaya Nagar,
Bilaspur (Chattisgarh)

Mining and mineral exploration is as old as the present modern civilization in India. Different parts of India contain wealth of mineral deposits, which have attracted worldwide attention since the time immemorial. In the present era of information age new tools and technologies have emerged to collect, store, retrieve and analyse various types of information related to mineral deposits. Commercial GIS packages offer tremendous opportunity in this regard. However, very few attempts have been made so far in this direction, primarily due to the fact that the relevant data is mostly considered as proprietary and lies with different organizations (in public sector and private sector -organised and disorganised) and therefore, considered as responsibility of respective organizations to prepare and maintain such databases. Secondly developing a GIS based mineral resource information system requires a lot of investment in developing GIS infrastructure within the organisation. It is also a well known fact in mining industry, that a lot of information is generated at a huge exploration cost and therefore, can not be shared with other competitors. However, some of the information that exists or being generated can be shared with others without sacrificing the commercial benefits. Secondly, in the present scenario, stake holders are many for such information, which is sought by government, industry, academicians and general public.

Therefore, an attempt has been made to develop a prototype of a "Mineral Resource Information System" to provide all basic information related to mineral deposits of a region in a most cost effective manner. In the present study, Singhbhum-Keonjhar region of Orissa and Jharkhand has been selected, as it is one of the most important iron and manganese-producing belt of India. This area is under mineral exploration and exploitation since beginning of last century, and as a result quite a large amount of data is generated and it is essential that the wealth of information be organized in a systematic manner to facilitate easy access and utilization for various academic and commercial purposes.

The concept
The MRIS concept is derived from basic GIS concept and concept of MERIGOLD, a database on gold deposits of Australia. It aims to provide spatial and non-spatial information on iron and manganese deposits and geological set up of the region. The system is designed such a way that all basic information related to mineral deposits is accessible on click of a mouse vis--vis spatial information layers such as satellite data products and thematic information layers. The system is expected to provide basic information independent of expensive GIS packages, and should there be any package, a link is available for advance GIS analysis. Most importantly, the non-spatial data can be edited and saved with latest information and thereby provides opportunity for continuous data updating.

Information content
The information content of the MRIS is divided into three parts: spatial, non-spatial and contextual. The spatial information consists of remotely sensed data and thematic information layers. The remotely sensed data consists of raw and processed data products from various sensors such as IRS-LISS-II, Landsat 5-TM, and ERS-1-SAR (Figure 1). The thematic information layers consists of lithology, lineaments, mine location, road network, drainage network, DEM, slope, aspect and location map. All such information and data layers are organized using GIS and image processing packages such as ERDAS Imagine 8.4 and ARC GIS 8.1. The non-spatial database is stored in a MS Access file and the contextual information is stored in hyper linked MS Word file. The non-spatial database consists of basic information on deposits, year wise, grade wise production, chemical analysis and mining environment (Figure 2). The non-spatial and contextual data can be edited and updated, however the most critical non-spatial database can only be updated with password permission.

Figure 1. Organisation of spatial data

Figure 2. Organization of non spatial data

Software design and implementation
The MRIS is designed in such a way that its concept can be used for other related fields, where input data is spatial or non spatial or both. In the present context, data related to Keonjhar region has been used for demonstrating capabilities and applications of MRIS. In the software, the spatial data is displayed in the back ground and non-spatial data is displayed in the fore ground. The information regarding a mine can be obtained through graphics by clicking on the appropriate location or selecting from the adjacent scroll bar, where all mine names are kept in order. Following are the information content and salient features of the prototype MRIS v 1.0 (Figure 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

Figure 3. Front Page of MRIS v 1.0

  1. It provides information on geology, mining, production, chemical analysis of ore and rock sample, and environmental data (air, water and land).
  2. User friendly, information available on point click or through pull down menu.
  3. Commercial GIS software independent, however, it can be linked to ARC GIS 8.1 if available.
  4. Produces report, various types of line graphs, bar graphs, etc. (still under customization, Figure 8)
  5. Database updating possible with password option (Figure 9).
  6. Context help file contains complete geological information in report form, which can be updated in MS WORD with additional information (Figure 10).
  7. Software uses mostly Microsoft resources (Access and Word)
  8. MRIS is developed using Visual Basic 6.0
  9. System used: P-III and Windows NT
  10. A software package named as "MRIS version 1.0" is developed with all components including database.
  11. The software can be installed in any Windows NT machine and the full capabilities of the software can be utilized.
  12. System requirement: 133 MB of disk space with 87 MB space for samples, thus total software installation requires 220 MB for full functionality.

Figure 4. Different types of menu option in MRIS v 1.0

Figure 5. Different options for displaying mining locations and satellite data

Figure 6. Point data information at selected mine

Figure 7. Environmental data and information update menu option

Figure 8. Graph information update menu option

Figure 9. Core database on mineral deposits and password for editing

Figure 10. Context help menu option showing hyper linked text file

Application potentials and limitations
The MRIS as visualized can be used for various purposes such as for easy accessibility of geological information, for sharing of geochemical data, in mineral exploration, revenue collection, environmental assessment and management, for mineral customer support, and for research and education purposes.

In developmental stage as in the present form, MRIS has various limitations. The database is not complete in many respects due to non-availability of information from mining authorities. The production data is available for only one year where as it should be available for past few years. It does not have a map with lease area boundaries. The satellite data provided also does not cover completely the study area. Apart from this, there could be other limitations that can only be known by extensive use/ validation by actual users.

The present attempt has demonstrated that an information system with spatial and non-spatial information can be developed and can be used by clients without expensive commercial GIS packages. In the present case only for preparing spatial data layers, GIS and DIP packages were used, for data access, display, query and updating of non-spatial data, MRIS can be used. The system can be packaged and given to users who can update the database and use it as per their needs. Although it has many limitations in the developmental stage, it has utility value and such MRIS can be easily developed for other mineral deposits of India. Most importantly, it has highlighted that in the era of software customization, it is essential that some basic component of any information system should be independent of any GIS package, then there should be gradual entry into the GIS system through customized menu system, and finally most experienced users can be exposed to the GIS system as it is, thereby allowing gradual learning of the spatial information system. Secondly for most of the basic usage of any information system, investment in terms of GIS infrastructure and GIS training is not a mandatory. This goes well with the assumption that almost 80 percent of the users need only 20 percent of the information system, which can be proprietary GIS independent and remaining 20 percent of the users need very advance processing related to 80 percent of the spatial information usage, which definitely requires a GIS system. Thus in every attempt to develop spatial information system, particularly targeting different user groups, it is worthwhile to consider this MRIS philosophy.

Authors are thankful to various organizations such as Orissa Mining and Geology Directorate, OMC, SAIL, TISCO, OMDC, IBM and various other private mining owners for providing information and help during field work in Singhbhum-Keonjhar region. Authors are also thankful to Dr. P.S. Roy, Dean, IIRS and Prof. V.K. Jha for providing all facilities to carry out the study. All rights reserved.