A heart for the soil
LK Senaviratne. Picture by Ruwan De Silva
Former Directors of the Geological Survey Department (GSD), L.K
Seneviratne and Nimal Ranasinghe, are men of the soil. That is where
their hearts are. Indeed their love for their vocation and their passion
and immense enthusiasm for Geology and related matters was detected on
the Lake House’s Radar screen.
“My writing of this book Index on Minerals of Sri Lanka was done as
an obligation for the Geological Survey Department with the intention of
preserving knowledge of the country’s mineral resources. This is also to
highlight invaluable work done by the people of this department” said
Geologist L.K. Seneviratne.
The Geological Survey Department over time became a fairly
multifunctional institute in line with other international institutes.
In 1993 the government took a decision to abolish the Department headed
by a Director and establish a Bureau administered by a Board of
“The successor to the GSD established under the Mines and Minerals
Act No. 33 of 1992 was named as the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB).
It was headed by a Board of Management and given greater responsibility
and authority to regulate all mining activities in Sri Lanka. During the
department days, we had to get funds from the Treasury; now for the last
several years, the Bureau is able to give money to the Treasury, ” said
Geologist Nimal Ranasinghe.
Messrs. Seneviratne and Ranasinghe recalling the key contributions by
the GSD and GSMB stated the following:
1. Completed Geological mapping of the whole country primarily at 1
inch to 1 mile scale and with enlarged scales for special mineral
investigations and in the process, discovery of all the country’s
minerals known to date.
2. Carried out all mineral investigations. Among a plethora of
surveys, the major ones were for: Mineral sands at Pulmoddai, Limestone
at Aruakkalu and adjoining Dutch Bay, Iron ores at Panirendawa,
Wilagedara, Dela, Noragolla and Seruwila, Shale at Andigama and Pallama,
Kaolin at Boralesgamuwa and Meetiyagoda, Ball clay at Dediyawela, Cement
clays at Murunkan and Oddusudan, Brick and tile clays at Bangadeniya and
Dankotuwa, Glass sand at Nattandiya, Madampe, Ampan and Vallipuram,
Apatite at Eppawala, Vein quartz at Ratnapura, Opanayake and Galaha.
3. From the fifties to mid-seventies the GSD performed;
* Over 125 water supply investigations for all colonization schemes
and various government projects
* Foundation investigations (up to mid-eighties) for most state
corporations including Oruwala Steel and State Engineering, dam sites
and tunnels at Wimalasurendra, Castlereigh, Polpitiya, Polgolla, Kotmale,
Randeniya, Victoria, Upper Kotmale and Kukule hydrel schemes and all
prior to establishment of respective dedicated organizations for
water resources, geotechnical and landslides investigations.
4. Discovery and establishment of all (except graphite) mineral based
industries such as Cement, Ceramics, Beach mineral sands, Fertilizer,
Glass and Dimension stone
5. One of the less known but key contributions was that key resource
personnel who both having received their educational and professional
experience at the GSD, established;
Lanka Mineral Sands
Corporation, (L.J.D.Fernando – continued with GSD until retirement)
Geology Department at Peradeniya University, (Dr. P.W.Vitanage –
Geologist– left GSD). It is now the premier seat of learning in Geology
in Sri Lanka that has produced erudite scholars such as Emeritus
Professor Kapila Dahanayake and Professor C.B.Dissanayake (Director,
Institute of Fundamental Studies at Hantana) among many others.
6. Provided resource personnel to assist functions of;
* Universities of Ibadan, Nigeria and King Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia
(Dr. P.G.Cooray – Senior Geologist – to be Lecturer in Geology),
* UNESCAP, (Dulip Jayawardena – Director – obtained release from
government to be Economic Affairs Officer at UN/ESCAP in Bangkok),
* McGill University, Canada (Dr. Stephen Kumarapeli – Senior
Geologist –to be Lecturer in Geophysics),
* Commonwealth Geological Liaison Office, (Dr. M.M.J.W. Herath –
Director – to be CGL Officer),
* Statoil (Norway), (Amara Ranaweera – resigned as Geologist – to be
Senior Reservoir Geologist),
* Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau, (H.D.N.C.Pathirana –
Geologist – and another to perform geotechnical investigations),
* Water Resources Board, (S.M.S.B.Basnayake – Geologist – to serve as
* SL Standards Institute, (Dr. N.R.de Silva – Analytical Chemist to
be the first Director General),
* Geological Survey of Western Australia, (Dr. P.B.Abeysinghe –
Geologist – to be Deputy Project Manager)
* Seven Mining Engineers in various mines mainly in Western
* Royal Australian Navy, (Padmasiri Ranasinghe – Senior Geologist –
to be Database Administrator),
* Weston Solutions Inc., USA, (S. Babusukumar – Senior Geologist – to
be Senior Client Service Manager)
7. The Chairman of the renowned mineral based enterprise ‘Ran Ruwan’
that has won numerous international and local awards, received his basic
knowledge and expertise on minerals from the GSD.
8. Provided specified short-term training to personnel from Ceramic
Corporation, Lanka Mineral Sands Ltd, both, Peradeniya and Moratuwa
Universitys’ geology, mining and chemistry graduands.
9. The Project on Delimitation of the Outer Edge of the Continental
Margin of Sri Lanka (DEOCOM) that seek granting of sovereign rights
under the UNCLOS to an area about 23 times Sri Lanka’s land area within
the continental shelf beyond her EEZ of 200 Nautical miles, to explore
for and exploit living and nonliving natural resources including
hydrocarbons, when launched will assure country’s economic emancipation,
is led by GSMB’s former Director and present Chairman.
In the 1960’s all statutory bodies dealing with minerals and the GSD,
the regulating authority, were under the Ministry of Industries, meaning
under one Ministry, and it was there for a long time. But now it is
under several Ministries.
“It is undeniably more efficient to have it under one Ministry
because enforcement of the provisions of the Act that deal with all
activities related to mining and exporting of mineral based products and
other regulatory tasks could be performed promptly and effectively. This
is a fundamental requirement as we are dealing with minerals that are
non renewable. Unlike agricultural produce mineral resources cannot be
grown again” stated Ranasinghe.