Distribution, Classification, and Conservation of Mineral Resources of India

Distribution, Classification, and Conservation of Mineral Resources of India
Posted on 22-08-2023

Mineral Resources in India: Distribution, Classification, and Conservation

Minerals are an integral part of our daily lives, forming the basis of various items made from metal. These metals are extracted from minerals found in the Earth's crust after undergoing refinement processes. Minerals are crucial for constructing everything from small pins to large buildings and ships. Even our transportation systems and machinery, as well as the power sources that fuel them, rely on minerals. Minerals also play a role in our food and have been used by humans throughout history for various purposes, including livelihood, decoration, and rituals.

A mineral is defined by geologists as a naturally occurring substance with a distinct internal structure. They vary widely in nature, from the hardness of diamonds to the softness of talc. India has a rich distribution of major minerals, where factors like mineral concentration, extraction ease, and proximity to markets impact their economic viability. The transformation of a mineral deposit into a mine involves making choices among different options.

Minerals can be classified based on their properties, and rocks, in turn, are composed of combinations of minerals. While there are over 2000 identified minerals, only a few are abundant in most rocks. Different conditions during mineral formation lead to variations in their properties such as color, hardness, crystal forms, luster, and density, which geologists use for classification.

Ferrous minerals, constituting a significant portion of metallic mineral production, provide a foundation for metallurgical industries. Iron ore, a crucial mineral for industrial development, is abundant in India. Magnetite and hematite are important types of iron ores, with the former having excellent magnetic properties. Iron ore belts in India include the Orissa-Jharkhand belt, Durg-Bastar-Chandrapur belt, Bellary-Chitradurga-Chikmaglur-Tumkur belt, and Maharashtra-Goa belt.

Manganese is vital for steel and ferromanganese alloy production and is primarily found in Orissa. India's reserves and production of non-ferrous minerals like copper, bauxite, lead, zinc, and gold are relatively limited, but they are important for various industries. Copper, used in electrical cables and electronics, is produced in Balaghat mines, Singbhum, and Khetri mines. Bauxite, the source of alumina and aluminum, is found mainly in Orissa's Panchpatmali deposits.

Non-metallic minerals, like mica used in electronics and electric industries, are also present in India. Mica belts exist in Jharkhand, Rajasthan, and Andhra Pradesh. Limestone, a crucial material for cement and iron smelting, is abundant in sedimentary rocks across various geological formations.

Given that only a small fraction of Earth's crust contains workable mineral deposits, it's crucial to conserve these finite and non-renewable resources. Continued extraction of minerals leads to higher costs as deeper, lower-quality deposits are tapped. Sustainable practices, such as using low-grade ores and recycling metals, are essential for the responsible use of mineral resources for the future.

A mineral stands as a naturally occurring, solid substance formed through a blend of physical and chemical compounds. India boasts an array of mineral resources due to its diverse geological structure. The significance of mineral resources lies in their role as a foundation for industrial advancement. India produces a wide spectrum of minerals, encompassing 4 fuels, 10 metallic minerals, 47 non-metallic minerals, 3 atomic minerals, and 23 minor minerals. The country's mineral repertoire includes pivotal resources such as coal, iron ore, manganese ore, mica, bauxite, chromite, diamonds, and limestone. Salt production thrives in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Mineral Formation Process Minerals emerge as atoms bond in crystalline arrangements. A precise blend of elements, favorable physical and chemical conditions, and sufficient time for atomic alignment are vital for crystal formation, influencing mineral quality.

Three Principal Paths of Mineral Formation:

  1. Precipitation from water with temperature alteration

  2. Crystallization from magma due to temperature shift

  3. Biological changes caused by organism action

Mineral Traits

  1. Solid

  2. Non-uniform distribution in space

  3. Definite crystal structure and chemical composition

  4. Quantity and quality of minerals share an inverse relationship, with high-quality minerals being scarcer

  5. Exhaustible

  6. Formed in an inorganic process

Varieties of Mineral Resources Minerals are categorized as metallic and non-metallic based on their chemical and physical attributes.

Metallic Minerals: Naturally occurring concentrations, known as mineral deposits, characterize metallic minerals. Extracting metals from these minerals necessitates chemical processing. They serve as metal sources, bolstering metallurgical industries. Metallic minerals can be classified into ferrous and non-ferrous minerals, with India sourcing many from the peninsular plateau's ancient crystalline rocks.

Ferrous Minerals: Minerals with iron content fall under this category, including iron ore, manganese, and chromite. These minerals constitute around three-quarters of metallic mineral value and underpin metallurgical sectors like iron, steel, and alloys.

Non-Ferrous Minerals: Minerals devoid of iron content, such as copper and bauxite, are classified as non-ferrous minerals. India, except for bauxite, has limited reserves of non-ferrous minerals.

Non-Metallic Minerals: Non-metallic minerals can be organic (coal, petroleum) or inorganic (mica, limestone, graphite). Coal, petroleum, limestone, dolomite, mica, gypsum, and phosphate are economically vital non-metallic minerals, contributing to various industries.

Mineral Distribution Northern India's alluvial plains lack minerals, whereas the peninsular plateau, particularly in old crystalline rocks, houses most metallic minerals. Coal deposits predominantly align with Damodar, Sone, Mahanadi, and Godavari valleys. Petroleum is situated in Assam, Gujarat, and Mumbai basins, with recent reserves discovered in Krishna-Godavari and Kaveri basins. Key mineral reserves are concentrated in Mangaluru and Kanpur.

Distribution of Important Minerals: Major iron ore types in India are haematite and magnetite, primarily found near coalfields in the northeastern plateau. Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Goa, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu collectively host 95% of iron ore reserves.

Manganese: Key for smelting iron ore and producing ferrous alloys, manganese is prominent in Karnataka, Odisha, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh, with minor reserves in Telangana, Goa, and Jharkhand.

Bauxite: Used for aluminum manufacture, bauxite is abundant in tertiary laterite rock deposits across peninsular and coastal India. Odisha's Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Bolangir, and Koraput regions are major extraction sources, alongside Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra.

Copper: Crucial for electrical industries, copper deposits span Jharkhand's Singbhum, Madhya Pradesh's Balaghat, and Rajasthan's Jhunjhunu and Alwar districts.

Mica: A vital component in electronics, mica is prominent in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan.

Coal: Bituminous and non-coking coal deposits dominate India's coal landscape, particularly in the Gondwana coalfields. Significant coalfields include Raniganj, Jharia, Bokaro, Giridih, and Karanpura.

Petroleum and Natural Gas: Assam's Digboi historically hosted oil deposits, now supplemented by new finds in Gujarat, Mumbai High, Krishna-Godavari, Kaveri basins, and offshore wells in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Conclusion Mineral resources are finite and non-renewable, underpinning economies worldwide. Understanding extraction rates, availability, and sustainability is paramount. As essential building blocks, minerals shape geography and natural phenomena. Preservation, responsible extraction, and technological innovation are critical to ensure the longevity of these valuable resources.

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