India is endowed with a rich variety of mineral resources due to its varied geological structure. Bulk of the valuable minerals are products of pre-Paleozoic age and are mainly associated with metamorphic and igneous rocks of the peninsular India. The vast alluvial plain tract of north India is devoid of minerals of economic use. The mineral resources provide the country with the necessary base for industrial development.
8.1. Types of Mineral Resources
Normally two types of minerals are recognised:
- Metallic Minerals-These minerals contain metal. Iron ore, copper, manganese, nickel, etc. are important examples of metallic minerals. Metallic minerals are further subdivided into ferrous and non-ferrous minerals.
- Ferrous Minerals-These minerals have iron content. Iron-ore, manganese, chromite, pyrites, tungsten, nickel, cobalt, etc. are important examples of ferrous minerals.
- Non-ferrous Minerals-These minerals do not have iron content. Gold, silver, copper, lead, bauxite, tin, magnesium, etc. are important examples of non-ferrous minerals.
- Non-metallic Minerals –These minerals do not contain metal. Limestone, nitrate, potash, dolomite, mica, gypsum, etc. are important examples of non-metallic minerals. Coal and petroleum are also non-metallic minerals. They are used as fuel and are also known as mineral fuels.
8.1.1. Other Classification of Minerals
- The wide varieties of minerals that have been explored by man for general and commercial purposes to satisfy his needs are classified in to the following groups:
- Industrial metallic minerals: Iron Ore
- Ferroalloy metallic minerals: Manganese, Chromium, Cobalt, Molybdenum Vanadium, Nickel.
- Precious metallic minerals: Gold (Au), Silver (Ag) and Platinum (Pt).
- Non-metallic minerals: Salt, and Tin, Potash, Asbestos, and Sulphur.
- Power Minerals (Mineral fuels): Coal, Petroleum and Natural Gas which are non-metallic minerals derived from vegetable remains
- Other: Uranium
8.2. Distribution of Minerals in India
- Most of the metallic minerals in India occur in the peninsular plateau region in the old crystalline rocks. Over 97 percent of coal reserves occur in the valleys of Damodar, Sone, Mahanadi and Godavari. Petroleum reserves are located in the sedimentary basins of Assam, Gujarat and Mumbai High i.e. off-shore region in the Arabian Sea. New reserves have been located in the Krishna-Godavari and Kaveri basins. Most of the major mineral resources occur to the east of a line linking Mangalore and Kanpur.
- Minerals are generally concentrated in three broad belts in India. There may be some sporadic occurrences here and there in isolated pockets. These belts are:
- The North-Eastern Plateau Region: This belt covers Chotanagpur (Jharkhand), Orissa Plateau, West Bengal and parts of Chhattisgarh. It has a variety of minerals viz. iron ore coal, manganese, bauxite, mica.
- The South-Western Plateau Region: This belt extends over Karnataka, Goa and contiguous Tamil Nadu uplands and Kerala. This belt is rich in ferrous metals and bauxite. It also contains high grade iron ore, manganese and limestone. This belt packs in coal deposits except Neyveli lignite. This belt does not have as diversified mineral deposits as the north-eastern belt. Kerala has deposits of monazite and thorium, bauxite clay. Goa has iron ore deposits.
- The North-Western Region: This belt extends along Aravali in Rajasthan and part of Gujarat and minerals are associated with the Dharwar system of rocks. Copper, zinc have been major minerals. Rajasthan is rich in building stones i.e. sandstone, granite, marble. Gypsum and Fuller’s earth deposits are also extensive. Dolomite and limestone provide raw materials for the cement industry. Gujarat is known for its petroleum deposits. You may be knowing that Gujarat and Rajasthan both have rich sources of salt.
- The Himalayan belt is another mineral belt where copper, lead, zinc, cobalt and tungsten are known to occur. They occur on both the eastern and western parts. Assam valley has mineral oil deposits. Besides, oil resources are also found in off-shore-areas near Mumbai Coast (Mumbai High).
8.2.1. Ferrous Mineral
Ferrous minerals such as iron ore, manganese, chromite, etc., provide a strong base for the development of metallurgical industries. Our country is well-placed in respect of ferrous minerals both in reserves and production.
- India is endowed with fairly abundant resources of iron ore. It has the largest reserve of iron ore in Asia. The two main types of ore found in our country are haematite and magnetite. It has great demand in the international market due to its superior quality.
- The iron ore mines occur in close proximity to the coal fields in the north-eastern plateau region of the country which adds to their advantage. The total reserves of iron ore in the country were about 20 billion tonnes in the year 2004-05.
- About 95 per cent of total reserves of iron ore is located in the States of Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
- In Odisha, iron ore occurs in a series of hill ranges in Sundergarh, Mayurbhanj and Kendujhar. The important mines are Gurumahisani, Sulaipet, Badampahar (Mayurbhaj), Kiruburu (Kendujhar) and Bonai (Sundergarh).
- Similar hill ranges, Jharkhand has some of the oldest iron ore mines and most of the iron and steel plants are located around them. Most of the important mines such as Noamundi and Gua are located in Poorbi and Pashchimi Singhbhum districts.
- This belt further extends to Durg, Dantewada and Bailadila. Dalli, and Rajhara in Durg are the important mines of iron ore in the country. In Karnataka, iron ore deposits occur in Sandur-Hospet area of Bellary district, Baba Budan hills and Kudremukh in Chikmagalur district and parts of Shimoga, Chitradurg and Tumkur districts.
- The districts of Chandrapur, Bhandara and Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, Karimnagar, Warangal, Kurnool, Cuddapah and Anantapur districts of Andhra Pradesh, Salem and Nilgiris districts of Tamil Nadu are other iron mining regions. Goa has also emerged as an important producer of iron ore.
- Manganese is an important raw material for smelting of iron ore and also used for manufacturing ferro alloys. Manganese deposits are found in almost all geological formations; however, it is mainly associated with the Dharwar system.
- Odisha is the leading producer of Manganese. Major mines in Odisha are located in the central part of the iron ore belt of India, particularly in Bonai, Kendujhar, Sundergarh, Gangpur, Koraput, Kalahandi and Bolangir.
- Karnataka is another major producer and here the mines are located in Dharwar, Bellary, Belgaum, North Canara, Chikmagalur, Shimoga, Chitradurg and Tumkur. Maharashtra is also an important producer of manganese which is mined in Nagpur, Bhandara and Ratnagiri districts. The disadvantage to these mines is that they are located far from steel plants.
- The manganese belt of Madhya Pradesh extends in a belt in Balaghat-Chhindwara-Nimar-Mandla and Jhabua districts.
- Andhra Pradesh, Goa, and Jharkhand are other minor producers of manganese.
8.2.2. Non-Ferrous Minerals
India is poorly endowed with non-ferrous metallic minerals except bauxite.
- Bauxite is the ore which is used in manufacturing aluminium.
- Bauxite is found mainly in tertiary deposits and is associated with laterite rocks occurring extensively either on the plateau or hill ranges of peninsular India and also in the coastal tracts of the country.
- Odisha happens to be the largest producer of Bauxite. Kalahandi and Sambalpur are the leading producers.
- The other two areas which have been increasing their production are Bolangir and Koraput. The patlands of Jharkhand in Lohardaga have rich deposits.
- Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are other major producers. Bhavanagar, Jamnagar in Gujarat have major deposits.
- Chhattisgarh has bauxite deposits in Amarkantak plateau while Katni-Jabalpur area and Balaghat in M.P. have important deposits of bauxite. Kolaba, Thane, Ratnagiri, Satara, Pune and Kolhapur in Maharashtra are important producers.
- Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Goa are minor producers of bauxite.
- Copper is an indispensable metal in the electrical industry for making wires, electric motors, transformers and generators. It is alloyable, malleable and ductile.
- It is also mixed with gold to provide strength to jewellery. The Copper deposits mainly occur in Singhbhum district in Jharkhand, Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh and Jhunjhunu and Alwar districts in Rajasthan.
- Minor producers of Copper are Agnigundala in Guntur District (Andhra Pradesh), Chitradurg and Hasan districts (Karnataka) and South Arcot district (Tamil Nadu).
8.2.3. Non-metallic Minerals
Among the non-metallic minerals produced in India, mica is the important one. The other minerals extracted for local consumption are limestone, dolomite and phosphate.
- Mica is mainly used in the electrical and electronic industries. It can be split into very thin sheets which are tough and flexible.
- Mica in India is produced in Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan followed by Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.
- In Jharkhand high quality mica is obtained in a belt extending over a distance of about 150 km, in length and about 22 km, in width in lower Hazaribagh plateau.
- In Andhra Pradesh. Nellore district produces the best quality mica.
- In Rajasthan mica belt extends for about 320 kms from Jaipur to Bhilwara and around Udaipur.
- Mica deposits also occur in Mysore and Hasan districts of Karnataka, Coimbatore, Tiruchirapalli, Madurai and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, Alleppey in Kerala, Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, Purulia and Bankura in West Bengal.
8.3. Energy Resources
Mineral fuels are essential for generation of power, required by agriculture, industry, transport and other sectors of the economy. Mineral fuels like coal, petroleum and natural gas (known as fossil fuels), nuclear energy minerals, are the conventional sources of energy. These conventional sources are exhaustible resources.
- Coal is a one of the important minerals which is mainly used in the generation of thermal power and smelting of iron ore.
- Coal occurs in rock sequences mainly of two geological ages, namely Gondwana and tertiary deposits.
- About 80 per cent of the coal deposits in India is of bituminous type and is of non-coking grade.
- The most important Gondwana coal fields of India are located in Damodar Valley. They lie in the Jharkhand-Bengal coal belt and the important coal fields in this region are Raniganj, Jharia, Bokaro, Giridih, Karanpura. Jharia is the largest coal field followed by Raniganj.
- The other river valleys associated with coal are Godavari, Mahanadi and Sone. The most important coal mining centres are Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh (part of Singrauli coal field lies in Uttar Pradesh), Korba in Chhattisgarh, Talcher and Rampur in Orissa, Chanda–Wardha, Kamptee and Bander in Maharashtra and Singareni and Pandur in Andhra Pradesh.
- Tertiary coals occur in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland. It is extracted from Darangiri, Cherrapunji, Mewlong and Langrin (Meghalaya); Makum, Jaipur and Nazira in upper Assam, Namchik – Namphuk (Arunachal Pradesh) and Kalakot (Jammu and Kashmir). Besides, the brown coal or lignite occurs in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir.
- Crude petroleum consists of hydrocarbons of liquid and gaseous states varying in chemical composition, colour and specific gravity. It is an essential source of energy for all internal combustion engines in automobiles, railways and aircraft.
- Its numerous by-products are processed in petrochemical industries such as fertiliser, synthetic rubber, synthetic fibre, medicines, Vaseline, lubricants, wax, soap and cosmetics.
- Crude petroleum occurs in sedimentary rocks of the tertiary period. Oil exploration and production was systematically taken up after the Oil and Natural Gas Commission was set up in 1956. Till then, the Digboi in Assam was the only oil producing region but the scenario has changed after 1956.
- In recent years, new oil deposits have been found at the extreme western and eastern parts of the country.
- In Assam, Digboi, Naharkatiya and Moran are important oil producing areas.
- The major oil fields of Gujarat are Ankaleshwar, Kalol, Mehsana, Nawagam, Kosamba and Lunej.
- Mumbai High which lies 160 km off Mumbai was discovered in 1973 and production commenced in 1976.
- Oil and natural gas have been found in exploratory wells in Krishna-Godavari and Kaveri basin on the east coast.
- Oil extracted from the wells is crude oil and contains many impurities. It cannot be used directly. It needs to be refined. There are two types of refineries in India:
- field based and
- market based.
- Digboi is an example of field based and Barauni is an example of market based refinery.
- The Gas Authority of India Limited was set up in 1984 as a public sector undertaking to transport and market natural gas.
- It is obtained along with oil in all the oil fields but exclusive reserves have been located along the eastern coast as well as (Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh), Tripura, Rajasthan and off-shore wells in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
8.3.1. Nuclear Energy Resources
- Nuclear energy has emerged as a viable source in recent times. Important minerals used for the generation of nuclear energy are uranium and thorium.
- Uranium deposits occur in the Dharwar rocks. Geographically, uranium ores are known to occur in several locations along the Singhbhum Copper belt. It is also found in Udaipur, Alwar and Jhunjhunu districts of Rajasthan, Durg district of Chhattisgarh, Bhandara district of Maharashtra and Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.
- Thorium is mainly obtained from monazite and ilmenite in the beach sands along the coast of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
- World’s richest monazite deposits occur in Palakkad and Kollam districts of Kerala, near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Mahanadi river delta in Odisha.
- Atomic Energy Commission was established in 1948, progress could be made only after the establishment of the Atomic Energy Institute at Trombay in 1954 which was renamed as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in 1967.
- The important nuclear power projects are Tarapur (Maharashtra), Rawatbhata near Kota (Rajasthan), Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu), Narora (Uttar Pradesh), Kaiga (Karnataka) and Kakarapara (Gujarat).
8.4. Non-Conventional Energy Sources
- Fossil fuel sources, such as coal, petroleum, natural gas and nuclear energy use exhaustible raw materials.
- Sustainable energy resources are only the renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydro-geothermal and biomass.
- These energy sources are more equitably distributed and environmentally friendly.
- The non-conventional energy sources will provide more sustained, eco-friendly cheaper energy after the initial cost is taken care of.
- Sun rays tapped in photovoltaic cells can be converted into energy, known as solar energy.
- The two effective processes considered to be very effective to tap solar energy are
- photovoltaics and
- solar thermal technology.
- Solar thermal technology has some relative advantages over all other non-renewable energy sources. It is cost competitive, environment friendly and easy to construct.
- Solar energy is 7 per cent more effective than coal or oil based plants and 10 per cent more effective than nuclear plants. It is generally used more in appliances like heaters, crop dryers, cookers, etc. The western part of India has greater potential for the development of solar energy in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
- Wind energy is absolutely pollution free, an inexhaustible source of energy. The mechanism of energy conversion from blowing wind is simple. The kinetic energy of wind, through turbines, is converted into electrical energy.
- The permanent wind systems such the trade winds, westerlies and seasonal wind like monsoon have been used as a source of energy. Besides these, local winds, land and sea breezes can also be used to produce electricity.
- India has already started generating wind energy. It has an ambitious programme to install 250 wind-driven turbines with a total capacity of 45 megawatts, spread over 12 suitable locations, especially in coastal areas.
- According to the estimation by the Ministry of Power, India will be able to produce 3,000 megawatts of electricity from this source. The Ministry of non-conventional sources of energy is developing wind energy in India to lessen the burden of the oil import bill.
- The country’s potential of wind power generation exceeds 50,000 megawatts, of which one fourth can be easily harnessed.
- In Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka, favorable conditions for wind energy exist. Wind power plant at Lamba in Gujarat in Kachchh is the largest in Asia. Another wind power plant is located at Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu.
Tidal and Wave Energy
- Ocean currents are the store-house of infinite energy. Since the beginning of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, persistent efforts were made to create a more efficient energy system from the ceaseless tidal waves and ocean current.
- Large tidal waves are known to occur along the west coast of India. Hence, India has great potential for the development of tidal energy along the coasts but so far these have not yet been utilized.
- When the magma from the interior of earth comes out on the surface, tremendous heat is released. This heat energy can successfully be tapped and converted to electrical energy.
- Apart from this, the hot water that gushes out through the geyser wells is also used in the generation of thermal energy. It is popularly known as Geothermal energy. This energy is now considered to be one of the key energy sources which can be developed as an alternate source.
- The hot springs and geysers have been used since the medieval period. In India, a geothermal energy plant has been commissioned at Manikaran in Himachal Pradesh.
- Bio-energy refers to energy derived from biological products which includes agricultural residues, municipal, industrial and other wastes. Bioenergy is a potential source of energy conversion. It can be converted into electrical energy, heat energy or gas for cooking.
- It will also process the waste and garbage and produce energy. This will improve the economic life of rural areas in developing countries, reduce environmental pollution, enhance self-reliance and reduce pressure on fuel wood. One such project converting municipal waste into energy is Okhla in Delhi.
8.5. Conservation of Mineral Resources
- The challenge of sustainable development requires integration of the quest for economic development with environmental concerns. Traditional methods of resource use result in generating enormous quantities of waste as well as create other environmental problems. Hence, sustainable development calls for the protection of resources for the future generations.
- There is an urgent need to conserve the resources. The alternative energy sources like solar power, wind, wave, geothermal energy are inexhaustible resources. These should be developed to replace the exhaustible resources.
- In case of metallic minerals, use of scrap metals will enable recycling of metals. Use of scrap is especially significant in metals like copper, lead and zinc in which India’s reserves are meagre.
- Use of substitutes for scarce metals may also reduce their consumption. Export of strategic and scarce minerals must be reduced, so that the existing reserve may be used for a longer period.
- Contemporary India-II by NCERT
- India: People and the Economy by NCERT
- India Year Book