Minerals play a vital role in the functioning of industries. All the industries need certain types of mineral resources for the manufacturing of semi-finished and finished goods or even as an energy source. In this article, I shall discuss the major mineral resources of India, their location and distribution, types of minerals, etc. This topic is very important for exams of upsc, bpsc and other state exams. For other important topics related to Indian geography, kindly read the articles of Indian geography.
Minerals and ores
Minerals are the naturally occurring substances of organic and inorganic origin having definite chemical and physical properties. Generally, minerals are found in ores. The term Ore is defined as an accumulation of any mineral mixed with other elements.
Fortunately, India is bestowed with a large number of mineral resources. Since India’s geological structure is the product of ancient hard rocks, therefore, all kinds of mineral resources are found in India.
Occurrence of minerals resources of India
In Igneous and Metamorphic rocks
- Occur in cracks, crevices, faults or joints.
- They are forced towards the earth’s surface since these minerals are in the molten and gaseous state.
- They get cooled and solidified as they rise through the cracks and faults.
- Examples- Tin, Copper, Zinc and Lead
In Sedimentary rocks
- Occur in beds and layers.
- They are formed due to accumulation, deposition and concentration in horizontal layers.
- Examples- Coal, Iron Ore, Gypsum, Potash, Sodium salt.
Decomposition of surface rocks
- The removal of soluble constituents.
- Example- Bauxite.
Minerals of Alluvial deposits
- They occur in sands of valley floors and base of hills.
- They are commonly known as Placer deposits.
- Example- Gold, Silver, Tin and Platinum.
Minerals of Ocean water
- They are too widely diffused to be of economic significance.
- Example- Common salt, Magnesium, Bromine and Manganese Nodules.
Classification of Minerals
Based on the chemical and physical properties, minerals can be classified under three broad categories of Metallic, Non-Metallic and Energy minerals.
Characteristics of Mineral resources of India
- Firstly, mineral resources are unevenly distributed over the surface.
- Secondly, the low-quality of mineral resources are more in quantity as compared to high-quality minerals. In other terms, there is an inverse relationship between quantity and quality of mineral resources.
- Thirdly, all the minerals are exhaustible over the period.
- Moreover, these minerals take long period (over hundreds of years) to replenish.
Regional distribution of Mineral resources in India
Geologically, Indian Peninsular region is endowed with great amount of mineral resources. Over 97% of the total coal reserves of India occur in the valleys of Godavari, Mahanadi, Sone and Damodar. In terms of Petroleum reserves, the sedimentary basins of Assam, Gujarat and Mumbai contain huge amount of petroleum reserves. The following are the three broad belts of minerals in India.
- North-Eastern Plateau region.
- South-Western Plateau region.
- North-Western Plateau Region.
North-Eastern Plateau region
The north-eastern plateau region covers Chhotanagpur in Jharkhand, plateau regions of Odisha, West Bengal and some parts of Chhattisgarh. This region is endowed with rich iron ore, coal, manganese, bauxite and Mica hence, it is a region of major iron and steel industries.
South-Western Plateau region
The south-western plateau region covers the states of Karnataka, Goa, uplands of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It is rich in both ferrous metals and bauxite. The other important minerals of this region are iron ore, manganese and limestone.
North-Western Plateau Region
The north-western plateau region spreads along Aravali in Rajasthan and parts of Gujarat having Dharwar rocks. The important metallic minerals of this region are Zinc and Copper. In terms of building materials, Rajasthan has rich reserves of Sandstone, Granite, Marble. Apart from aforesaid regions, the Himalayan region of India also has mineral resources like Copper, Lead, Zinc, Cobalt and Tungsten.
Agencies for exploration of mineral resources in India
- Geological Survey of India (GSI)
- Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC)
- Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL)
- National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC)
- Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM)
- Bharat Gold Mines Limited (BGML)
- National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO)
- Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL), etc.
Iron ore in India
Iron ore plays a vital role in the development of metallurgical industries. Geologically, the major deposits of iron ore are found in association with Volcano-Sedimentary Banded Iron formation (BIF) of Pre-Cambrian age. The major iron ores are Magnetite, Hematite, Siderite, Limonite and Laterite. Out of these, Magnetite (the best quality iron ore) and Hematite are the most prominent iron ores found in India.
However, the entire production of iron and its products in India come from Hematite reserves as Magnetite reserves are not being exploited fully. The Magnetite reserves of India are mainly found in eco-friendly areas of Western Ghats. According to geologists, around 96% of Hematite reserves are confined in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Karnataka and Goa. The remaining reserves of Hematite are constrained in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Assam. Over 85% of the Hematite reserves are of medium grade to high grade having more than 62% of iron content.
Distribution of Pre-Cambrian Banded iron ore in India
- Zone A: Singhbhum and Cuttack in Jharkhand and Odisha respectively.
- Zone B: Dantewara & Durg in Chhattisgarh and Chandrapur and Gadcheroli in Maharashtra.
- Zone C: Bellary-Hospet belt in Karnataka.
- Zone D: Goa, Ratnagiri in Maharashtra and North Karnataka.
- Zone E: Metamorphosed BIF along the West coast in Karnataka and Kerala.
Distribution of Iron ore in India
Based on the mode of occurrence and origin, the iron ore reserves of India can be divided into the following six groups.
- Banded Iron Formation (BIF) of Pre-Cambrian age.
- Sedimentary iron ore deposits of Siderite and Limonite composition.
- Lateritic ores derived from the Sub-Aerial alterations.
- Apatite-Magnetite rocks of Sighbhum Copper belt.
- Titaniferous and Vanadiferous Magnetite.
- Fault and Fissures filling deposits.
Important ports of Iron ore Export in India
- New Mangalore
Manganese ore in India
Manganese is a Ferro metal, occurring as silvery grey. It is very hard and brittle. It is always present in combination with other minerals like iron, laterite, etc. Being a ferrous metal, manganese is used in steel manufacturing and ferromanganese alloys. It has been estimated that for manufacturing of one tonne of steel, about 10 kg of manganese is required. In terms of other manufacturing industries, it is used in the manufacturing of pesticides, bleaching powder and paint industries. Geologically, manganese deposits are found in association with the Dharwar system.
Major ores of Manganese
- Pyrolusite (MnO2) about 63.2% of Manganese.
- Psilomelane (Manganese oxide, water and varying amounts of Ba, K and Na) about 45 to 60% of Manganese.
- Manganite (Mn2O3.H2O) about 62.4% of Manganese.
- Braunite (3Mn2O3, MnSiO8) about 62% and 10% of Manganese and SiO2 respectively.
Having some deposits of manganese in India but it is one of the largest importers of manganese ore in the world. The following are the major deposits of manganese in India.
- Archaean series of Madhya Pradesh (districts of Balaghat, Chhindwara and Jhabua.
- Maharashtra (Bhandara and Nagpur district).
- Gujarat (districts of Panchmahal district).
- Odisha (Sudergarh, Ganjam and Koraput).
- Andhra Pradesh (districts of Srikakulam, Vishakhapatnam)
|States production||Production in %|
|Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, |
Karnataka, Rajasthan and Telangana.
The principal producers of Manganese ore in India
|MOIL Ltd.||Madhya Pradesh|
Nagpur & Bhandara
|Tata Steels Ltd.||Odisha||Kendujhar|
|The Sandur Manganese|
& iron ore Ltd.
|Odisha Manganese &|
|S.K Sarawagi & Co. |
|Aryan Mining & Trading|
Corp. Private Ltd.
|Gujarat Mineral Development|
Use of Manganese in industries
The alloys of manganese are the largest produced ferroalloys in the world. Globally, it shares about 41% of total ferroalloys in the world. The commonly used ferromanganese are high carbon ferromanganese, medium carbon-ferromanganese and low-carbon-ferromanganese. On the other hand, Silico-Manganese contains 60-70% of manganese, 10-20% of Silica and 20% of carbon. Manganese ores are also used in Blast Furnace for steel manufacturing. Also, the Iron & Steel industry is the 2nd largest consumer of manganese ore. The demands of manganese ore are also increasing day-by-day in India.
Non-Ferrous Mineral resources in India
Copper in India
Copper is a non-ferrous metal found in the veins of all the major rocks namely, Igneous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic. Mechanically, it is a soft, malleable and ductile metal, having very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Due to its magnificent properties, it is widely used in electrical activities. Being very ductile and conductive, it is used for making electrical wires. To provide strength to jewellery, copper is also mixed with gold. Being an alloyable metal, it can be alloyed with Zinc and Tin to form Brass and Bronze respectively.
Major ores of Copper
- Sulphide ores: Chalcopyrite, Chalcocite, Bomite
- Oxide ores: Cuprite
- Carbonate: Machelite and Edurite
Important Copper producing regions in India
- Singhbhum in Jharkhand.
- Jhunjhunu, Bhilwara, Alwar and Udaipur in Rajasthan.
- Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh.
- Guntur and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh.
Major Producer of Copper in India
- Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL): a public sector
- Hindalco Industries Limited: private sector
- Vedanta Limited: private sector
Despite copper reserves in India, India is an importer of copper. The domestic demand for copper in India is met through recycling of copper, domestic production of copper and by imports.
The largest reserves of copper ore are found in the states of Rajasthan (53.81%) followed by Jharkhand (19.54%) and Madhya Pradesh (18.75%). On the other hand, the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand and West Bengal accounted for 7.9% of the total copper reserves of India.
Bauxite in India
Bauxite predominantly contains hydrated aluminium oxide as a major constituent. However, it also contains iron oxide, silica and titania in varying proportion. Geologically, it is found in the rocks of the Tertiary period and the hilly and plateau regions of Peninsular India. It is the major ore for the production of aluminium. India stands at fifth and sixth position in terms of the total bauxite production and total bauxite reserves of the world respectively.
Bauxite reserves and production in India
|Bauxite Reserves in India|
|Odisha- maximum reserves of bauxite in India (51%)|
|Andhra Pradesh (16%)|
|States||Production in Thousand Tonnes|
Lead in India
The extraction of lead is mainly done from an ore called Galena. Galena is found primarily with Silver and Zinc. Lead is not only a toxic metal but also soft, heavy and malleable metal. A freshly cut lead is bluish-white in appearance. In terms of industrial use, it is widely used in alloys, cable covers, paints, glass-making, paint-making, automobile, aeroplanes, type-writers, printing and rubber industries. However, globally, the largest single use of lead is in the manufacturing of lead-acid-batteries (about 74%). For the production of brass and bronze, lead is also alloyed with other metals. Rajasthan has the largest lead-reserves in India. The following are the major lead mines in India.
- Zawar (in Rajasthan)
- Rajpura-Dariba region at Udaipur district (in Rajasthan)
Zinc in India
In terms of the mineral resources of India, zinc plays a vital role for the working of industries. It is found in association with lead and silver. Mainly, it can be extracted from zinc sulphide, zincite, calamine, willemite and hemimorphite. For the galvanization of metals, zinc is used to protect iron and steel. It is also used in paints, batteries, spare-parts of motors and medicines. The largest reserves of zinc are found in Rajasthan followed by Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra. The main zinc producing regions are Bhilwara, Rajasamand and Udaipur.