Mineral Resources - UPSC Notes - Indian Geography - Thought Chakra

Mineral Resources – UPSC Notes – Indian Geography

Mineral Resources are essential for industrial development in a country. India is blessed with a diverse range of mineral resources due to its geological diversity. It boasts over a hundred minerals, approximately thirty of which hold economic importance. Notable examples include coal, iron ore, manganese, bauxite, and mica. However, reserves of petroleum and certain nonferrous metallic minerals, notably copper, lead, zinc, tin, and graphite, are insufficient.

Minerals can be categorized into two primary groups: metallic and non-metallic, based on their chemical and physical properties.

Types of Mineral Resources

Based on their chemical and physical properties, minerals can be classified into two categories: metallic and non-metallic.

Classification of Minerals

Metallic Minerals

Metallic minerals serve as the primary sources of metals, laying a foundation for the metallurgical industry.

  • Iron ore, bauxite, and others contribute to metal production within this group. Metallic minerals typically display a distinct metallic shine or lustre.
  • They are further categorized into ferrous and non-ferrous metallic minerals.

Ferrous Minerals

Ferrous minerals are those containing iron, such as iron ore, manganese, and chromites.

  • They constitute approximately three-fourths of the total value of metallic mineral production and are crucial for the advancement of metallurgical industries, notably iron, steel, and alloys.
  • India boasts a favorable position concerning ferrous minerals in terms of reserves and production.

Non-ferrous Minerals

Minerals lacking iron content are referred to as non-ferrous minerals. Examples include copper and bauxite.

  • India has a limited abundance of non-ferrous metallic minerals, with bauxite being the primary exception.

Non-metallic Minerals

Non-metallic minerals originate either organically or inorganically and lack extractable metals in their chemical makeup.

  • They are categorized into two groups based on their origin: mineral fuel and other non-metallic minerals.
  • India possesses numerous non-metallic minerals, though only select ones are commercially significant. Notable examples include limestone, dolomite, mica, kyanite, sillimanite, gypsum, and phosphate, crucial for industries like cement, fertilizers, refractories, and electrical goods.
  • Mineral Fuels: These are organic in origin, derived from buried animal and plant life, such as coal and petroleum, also known as fossil fuels.
  • Other Non-metallic Minerals: Inorganic in origin, examples include mica, limestone, and graphite.

Characteristics of Minerals

Key characteristics of minerals include:

  • Definite crystalline structure
  • Definite chemical composition
  • Naturally occurring
  • Formed by inorganic processes
  • Solid

For a substance to qualify as a mineral, it must exhibit at least three of these characteristics. Additional attributes of minerals include:

  • Uneven distribution over space
  • Inverse relationship between quality and quantity
  • Exhaustibility over time
  • Geological development requiring significant time, rendering them non-replenishable immediately when needed.

Distribution of Minerals

The distribution of mineral resources in India displays unevenness, often linked to specific geological structures.

  • The Gondwana system predominantly hosts coal deposits.
  • Dharwar and Cuddapah systems are rich in major metallic minerals such as copper, lead, and zinc.
  • The Vindhyan system is notable for its abundance of non-metallic minerals like limestone, dolomite, gypsum, and calcium sulfate.
  • Most of India’s metallic minerals are found in the peninsular plateau region, particularly in the old crystalline rocks.

Trends in Regional Distribution of Minerals in India

The predominance of major mineral resources lies eastward of a line connecting Mangaluru and Kanpur.

  • Over 97% of coal reserves are concentrated in the valleys of Damodar, Sone, Mahanadi, and Godavari.
  • Petroleum reserves are primarily situated in the sedimentary basins of Assam, Gujarat, and Mumbai High, notably in the offshore region of the Arabian Sea.
  • New reserves have been discovered in the Krishna-Godavari and Kaveri basins.

Distribution of Important Minerals

Iron ore

India possesses abundant resources of iron ore, characterized by high quality with iron content exceeding 60 percent. The majority of iron ore in the country can be classified into three types: haematite, magnetite, and limonite.

Types Iron oreIron content
Haematite (red ore)68%
Magnetite (black ore)60%
Limonite (yellow ore)35%-50%

The iron ore mines are situated near the coal fields in the northeastern plateau region of India. Approximately 95% of the total iron ore reserves are concentrated in the states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Goa, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

StatesRegionsImportant Mines
OdishaSundergarhBonai
MayurbhanjGurumahisani, Sulaipet, Badampahar
JharKiruburu
JharkhandPoorbi SinghbhumNoamundi
Pashchimi SinghbhumGua
ChhattisgarhDurgDalli Rajhara
BastarDantewara, Bailadila
KarnatakaBallari districtSandur-Hospet
Chikkamagaluru district, Shivamogga, Chitradurg TumakuruBaba Budan hills and Kudremukh
  • Iron ore deposits in Andhra Pradesh are spread across districts such as Anantpur, Khammam, Krishna, Kurnool, Cuddapah, and Nellore.
  • Additional deposits are found in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.
  • Specifically, Bailadila and Rajhara mines in Chhattisgarh, and Kiruburu mines in Odisha, are actively exploited for export purposes.
  • Goa possesses ore of inferior quality, yet its contribution to the nation’s total production is significant. Most of Goa’s iron production is exported from Marmagao Port to Japan.

Manganese

  • India holds the third position globally in manganese ore production, trailing behind Russia and South Africa. Manganese deposits are widespread across various geological formations, but are primarily associated with the Dharwar system.
  • Key production areas include Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. Over 78% of India’s manganese ore reserves are concentrated in a belt stretching from Nagpur and Bhandara districts in Maharashtra to Balaghat and Chindwara districts in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Odisha leads in manganese production, contributing 37% of the country’s total output. Notable mining areas in Odisha include Sundargarh, Rayagada, Bolangir, Keonjhar, Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Koraput, and Kalahandi.
  • Karnataka is another significant producer, accounting for 26% of the nation’s total production, with mines located in Dharwar, Ballari, Belagavi, North Canara, Chikkmagaluru, Shivamogga, Chitradurg, and Tumakuru.
  • Maharashtra also plays a crucial role in manganese production, with mining activities in Nagpur, Bhandara, and Ratnagiri districts.
  • The manganese belt of Madhya Pradesh extends across Balaghat, Chhindwara, Nimar, Mandla, and Jhabua districts.
  • Telangana, Goa, and Jharkhand are minor producers of manganese. Manganese serves as a vital raw material for smelting iron ore and manufacturing ferroalloys, with 85% of India’s manganese consumption attributed to metallurgical industries.

Bauxite

Bauxite, a non-ferrous metallic mineral, serves as a crucial component in aluminium manufacturing. It’s primarily found in tertiary deposits, often associated with laterite rocks.

  • Bauxite is widely distributed across plateaus, hill ranges, and coastal tracts in India, ensuring the country’s self-reliance due to sufficient reserves.
  • Major reserves are located in Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Uttar Pradesh. Additionally, significant deposits have been uncovered in the Eastern Ghats of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, as well as in Salem, Nilgiri, and Madurai districts of Tamil Nadu, and Banda district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Odisha stands as the leading producer of bauxite in India.
StatesRegion
JharkhandPalamau, Ranchi and Lohardaga districts
GujaratBhavnagar, Junagadh and Amreli
Madhya PradeshMandla, Shahdole and Balaghat and Katni district
ChhattisgarhSarguja, Raigarh and Bilaspur in amarkantak plateau
MaharastraKolhapur, Raigarh, Thana, Satara and Ratnagiri district
KarnatakaNorth-western parts of Belgaum district

Key regions for bauxite production in Maharashtra include Kolaba, Thane, Ratnagiri, Satara, Pune, and Kolhapur.

  • Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Goa contribute as minor producers of bauxite.
  • Aluminium, extracted from the ore, serves in the fabrication of aircraft, electrical appliances, and various household items like utensils and fittings.

Copper

Copper plays a vital role in the electrical industry, utilized for crafting wires, electric motors, transformers, and generators. However, India lags in terms of reserves and production of copper.

  • Significant copper ore deposits are situated in Singhbhum district in Jharkhand, Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh, and Jhunjhunu and Alwar districts in Rajasthan.

There are small deposits of copper in Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, and West Bengal as well.

  • Madhya Pradesh holds the title of being the largest producer of copper in India.
  • Rajasthan follows as the second largest producing state, with the Khetri-Singhana belt in Jhunjhunu district being the primary copper-producing area.
  • Despite domestic production, India’s demand for copper exceeds its supply, leading to imports from countries such as the USA, Canada, Zimbabwe, Japan, and Mexico.

Mica

Mica finds its primary use in the electronic and electrical industries, valued for its ability to be split into thin, tough, and flexible sheets. India holds the top position as the leading producer of sheet mica.

  • Although mica is widely distributed throughout India, workable deposits are concentrated in three main belts: Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, and Rajasthan.
  • Bihar and Jharkhand boast high-quality ruby mica, with deposits in districts such as Gaya, Munger, and Bhagalpur in Bihar, and Dhanbad, Palamau, Hazaribagh, Ranchi, and Singhbhum in Jharkhand.
  • Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh is renowned for its premium-grade mica. In Rajasthan, the mica belt stretches from Jaipur to Bhilwara and around Udaipur.
  • Mica deposits are also found in Mysuru and Hasan districts of Karnataka, Coimbatore, Tiruchirapalli, Madurai, and Kanniyakumari in Tamil Nadu, Alleppey in Kerala, Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, Purulia, and Bankura in West Bengal.

Gold

Gold stands as a precious metal, typically found in auriferous lodes, prized for crafting ornaments and serving as international currency.

  • Three significant gold fields exist in India: the Kolar Gold Field in Kolar district, the Hutti Gold Field in Raichur district (both in Karnataka), and the Ramgiri Gold Field in Anantpur district (Andhra Pradesh).
  • Karnataka holds the title of being the largest producer of gold in India. The Kolar Gold Field, spanning approximately 80 km, remains the primary gold supplier in the country. Notably, the Kolar Gold Fields ranks among the deepest mines globally.

Conservation of Mineral Resource

The challenge of sustainable development necessitates integrating economic growth with environmental preservation.

Traditional resource utilization methods generate vast amounts of waste and other environmental issues, emphasizing the urgent need for resource conservation.

Inexhaustible resources should be prioritized to replace depletable ones. For metallic minerals, recycling of scrap metals is crucial, particularly for copper, lead, and zinc, given India’s limited reserves in these metals.

Substitutes for scarce metals could help reduce consumption. Additionally, limiting exports of strategic and scarce minerals would extend the availability of existing reserves.

Conclusion

Mineral resources are non-renewable assets that have found utilization in nearly every facet of human activity. They play a vital role in global economies and serve as fundamental building blocks in geography, influencing various natural phenomena.

The United Nations Framework Classification (UNFC) categorizes these resources into ‘reserves’ and ‘resources’. ‘Reserves’ encompass economically significant and mineable portions of measured mineral resources, while ‘resources’ include minerals not deemed economically viable due to various factors.

Given their irreplaceable nature, there’s a growing interest in understanding the rate at which extraction should occur to ensure availability and sustainability.

FAQs on Mineral Resources

Question: Which state is famous for mineral resources in India?

Answer: Several states in India are renowned for their rich mineral resources. Among them, states like Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, and Rajasthan are notable for their abundant mineral deposits, including iron ore, coal, bauxite, and more.

Question: How many minerals are there in India?

Answer: India is endowed with a diverse range of minerals, with over a hundred different types identified. Approximately 95 minerals are currently being mined, and others are being explored for potential extraction.

Question: Which is the deepest mine in India?

Answer: The Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) in Karnataka was one of the deepest mines in India, with mining activities extending to depths of around 3.6 kilometers. However, KGF ceased operations in 2001. Currently, the Mponeng gold mine in South Africa holds the record for being the world’s deepest mine.

UPSC PYQ Mains

Critically evaluate the various resources of the oceans which can be harnessed to meet the resource crisis in the world. (150 words)

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