Indian Geography / Mineral Resources
Mineral resources can be categorized into metallic as well as non-metallic minerals. Metallic minerals in India are somewhat scarce except the minerals
containing ferrous metal. Metallic minerals can further be classified as ferrous and non-ferrous metallic minerals. Similarly, non-metallic minerals can further be
classified as non-metallic fuel minerals and non-metallic non-fuel minerals. Minerals are found in the rock crust of the earth. Minerals may occur in the
cracks, crevices, faults and joints of Metamorphic and Igneous rocks. Smaller occurrences of minerals are known as Veins and occurrence of larger ones are
known as Lodes.
A number of minerals are present in beds or layers of sedimentary rocks, e.g. Coal, Gypsum, Potash, Sodium salts, etc. Peninsular rocks consist of most of
the reserves of coal, mica, metallic minerals and other non-metallic minerals. Petroleum deposits are present in Gujarat, Assam and the western and eastern
flanks of the Indian peninsula. India has surplus reserves of best quality ferrous metals and is in a position to export these metals but non-ferrous
metal reserves are few and the quality is also inferior. India is dependent on imports for non-ferrous metals.
Ferrous Metallic Minerals
The metals that come under ferrous metal category are Iron, Manganese, Nickel, Cobalt, etc.
- Iron is the backbone of industrialization. Rich iron ores make a country industrialized. We generally find four types of iron ores namely, Hematite,
Magnetite, Limonite and Siderite.
- Quality wise Hematite remains the most important industrial iron ore but it has somewhat lower iron content than Magnetite ( 50-60% ). In Magnetite,
the iron content is around 65-70% which is highest among all the four types of ores. Limonite and Siderite are of inferior quality. India's reserves are mainly
Hematite and Magnetite type. India is the seventh largest producer of iron in the world.
- One fourth of iron ore present in India is in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In Chhattisgarh, chief iron ore production areas are Dalli Rajhara
and Bailadilla. Durg-Bastar-Chandrapur belt is in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Good quality grade Hematite ore is found in the Bailadila hill ranges in
Chattisgarh. Iron ore obtained from these mines is exported to South Korea and Japan through Visakhapatnam port.
- Maharashtra-Goa iron ore belt includes the state of Goa as well as the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. Iron ore from this belt is exported through
Marmagao port. In Goa, Bicholim is the main centre of iron ore production.
- Karnataka is the top state in production of iron ore. In Karnataka, the centres of iron ore production are Donimalai in Bellary-Hospet iron
belt, Kemmangundi and Kudremukh ( stopped production due to environmental issues ). The main steel plants here are Jindal Vijayanagar Steel Ltd.
and Bhadravati Steel Plant. Bellary-Chitradurga-Chikmagalur-Tumkur belt in Karnataka has huge reserves of iron ore. Kudremukh iron ore deposits are
considered to be one of the largest in the world.
- In Jharkhand, the main iron ore centre is Noamundi which supplies iron ore to Bokaro steel plant. In Odisha, the iron ore centre, Gorumahisani
supplies iron ore to Rourkela steel plant. In Odisha-Jharkhand belt, high grade Hematite ore is available in Badampahar mines in the Mayurbhanj and Kendujhar
districts of Odisha and Gua and Noamundi mines in the Singhbhum district of Jharkhand.
- Manganese is used for the steel production and is also used in chemical industries like varnishes and colours. It is also used for manufacturing of
bleaching powder, paints, insecticides and for making batteries. Nearly 1 kg of Manganese is required to manufacture 100 kg of steel.
- The important Manganese ores are Pyrolusite, Psilomelane, Braunite and Hollandite. Pyrolusite and Psilomelane are superior in quality. India is the
fourth largest producer of Manganese in the world. 15% of India's production is exported, that to mainly to Japan.
- Odisha remains the largest producer of Manganese in India producing around one third of total production. Sundergarh and Kendujhar districts are
having rich Manganese ore. Balaghat Ranges in Madhya Pradesh to Bhandara district of Maharashtra has rich Manganese ore. In Karnataka, Bellary and Shimoga
regions have rich Manganese ore.
Non-ferrous Metallic Minerals
The metals that come under non-ferrous metal category are Copper, Lead, Zinc, Tin, Aluminum, Mica, etc.
- Bauxite, ore of Aluminum, was found in Les Baux ( France ) for the very first time. Bauxite deposits are being formed by the decomposition of
wide variety of rocks that are rich in Aluminum silicates. 20% of India's Bauxite is exported and that too mainly to Italy.
- Bauxite reserves are highly concentrated in Eastern ghats region of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Odisha, the largest Bauxite producing state in India
accounts for 45% of the country's total production. Panchpatmali deposits in the Koraput district of Odisha are the most important ones. Koraput and
Dhenkanal districts are the centres of Bauxite production.
- Bauxite deposits are also found in the Amarkantak Plateau, the plateau region of Bilaspur-Katni and Maikal hills. In Jharkhand, Chotanagpur Plateau region
has these reserves. Lohardaga is an important mining centre in Jharkhand. Some reserves are also found in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
- Properties of Bauxite - (i) It is very light and hence used in Aeronautical equipments, (ii) It has high electrical conductivity and (iii) It has
high Malleability and hence suitable for packaging industry.
- Processing of Bauxite is done in two stages. Bauxite is converted to Alumina in the first stage and then to Aluminum in the next stage.
Bauxite to Alumina is done at the mining centre and to Aluminum is done near power stations. Aluminum processing units are normally located near power stations
like Rihand Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, Mettur in Tamil Nadu, Aluva in Kerala, Korba in Chhattisgarh, etc.
- Generally Copper, Lead, Zinc and Silver are found near to each other. Main sources of Copper are Cuprite and Bornite which are superior in quality
and Chalcocite and Chalcopyrite which are having low Copper content. India's reserves are of Chalcopyrite variety. We are importing processed
Copper from USA.
- Madhya Pradesh is the largest Copper producing state where more than 50% Copper is produced. The important mining centre is Malaj Khand. In
Rajasthan, Alwar district and Khetri mines in Jhunjhunu district have Copper reserves. In Jharkhand, the mining centres are Rakka and Mosabani.
- Khetri in Rajasthan, Rakka and Ghatsila in Jharkhand have Copper processing units. Khetri also has Copper smelter. Copper is widely utilised in electrical
systems as it is the best best conductor of electricity.
- The main source of Lead is Galena or Lead Sulphide. Lead is mainly used for solder material, sheaths and also used in storage batteries.
- Rajasthan is the top producer of Lead contributing around 80% of total production in India. Zawar is the important mining centre in Rajasthan.
Even Mochia-Mogra region has Lead reserves. Some Lead reserves are also found in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
- The important ore of Zinc is Sphalerite i.e, Zinc blende. 99% of Zinc is produced in Rajasthan. Zinc is found along with Lead in Mochia
Mogra region. Zinc smelters are located in Dariba (Rajasthan), Aluva (Kerala), Vizag (Andhra Pradesh).
- Zinc is used for galvanization to avoid rust formation. India is importing Lead and Zinc mainly from Australia and Peru.
- Gold is always found in the forms of Veins / Lodes in the quartzite bearing rocks. Sometimes it is available in Alluvial soils, for example,
Subarnarekha river region in Jharkhand and Punnapuzha coastal region of Kerala. India's production is very low and hence it imports gold. Rand region of
South Africa is very famous for gold mining.
- Gold is used as a currency metal / exchange metal. It doesn't chemically react with any metal except Mercury and dissolves in Aqua regia. It
is widely used in ornament making because of its ductility property.
- In India Gold is found in (i) Kolar in Karnataka, commercial exploration is stopped here, (ii) Hutti in the Raichur district of Karnataka and
(iii) Ramagiri gold fields in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.