In an initiative aimed at locating uranium deposits, the city-based National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) is all set to take up a heli-borne survey of around 1.25-lakh line km in different parts of the country. To start with, the Singhbhum shear zone in parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal is to be scouted in the first week of March.

For the initial phase of the project, to be spread over three years, the NGRI has acquired a Rs. 9-crore ‘time domain electro magnetic’ system capable of probing targets up to a depth of 800 metres.

Improved assessment

While the earlier equipment could probe up to 100 metres, the new system will help in improved assessment of graphitic conductors, according to NGRI Director V.P. Dimri.

“Our team is to start with the extension area of the Jaduguda mine in Jharkhand and this itself entails covering about 25,000 km. Once the high resolution multi-parameter aerial effort identifies favourable locations, either the team will descend for a ground survey or another one will go for it.”

For the exploration programme funded by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research under the Department of Atomic Energy, the NGRI will take up a grid survey, i.e., flying in horizontal and vertical lines, of different locations. “The survey has to be done before monsoon sets in in that area and the data thus collated will be processed during the monsoon.”

Vital for nuclear plants

After Jharkhand and West Bengal, the team will move to other locations. The entire project looks at surveying 4.75 lakh km but, at present, only one-third of the total area is being taken up. Describing it as an important project for nuclear plants, Dr. Dimri says, “Though we intend to look for uranium in locations without environment implications, as of now our effort is to identify the overall availability.”