Distribution of Minerals in India

Mains Marks Booster     4th August 2023        

Introduction: Minerals are naturally occurring substances with unique chemical compositions and crystalline structures found in the Earth's crust.
Distribution of Minerals in India

  1. Uneven Distribution
  • Minerals are distributed unevenly on the earth's surface.
  • All minerals are exhaustible in nature and will deplete over time.
  • While minerals take a long time to form, they cannot be replenished immediately when needed.
  1. Coal Reserves in India
  • Over 97% of coal reserves are found in the valleys of Damodar, Sone, Mahanadi, and Godavari rivers.
  • India's domestic coal reserves have a high ash content of 40-45%.
  • Most coal-based power plants lack flue-gas desulphurization technology, contributing to air pollution. Coal burning releases particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury.
  1. Petroleum Reserves in India
  • Petroleum reserves are located in the sedimentary basins of Assam, Gujarat, and Mumbai High (off-shore region in the Arabian Sea).
  • New petroleum reserves are also found in the Krishna-Godavari and Kaveri basins.

Coal Reserves in India

Mineral Belts in India 



North-Eastern Plateau Region

  • Major areas: Chhotanagpur (Jharkhand), Odisha, West Bengal, and parts of Chhattisgarh.
  • Major minerals: Iron ore, coal, manganese, bauxite, and mica.

South-Western Plateau Region

  • Major areas: Karnataka, Goa, Tamil Nadu uplands, and Kerala.
  • Major minerals: Iron ore, manganese, limestone, monazite (in Kerala), thorium (in Kerala), and bauxite clay (in Goa).

North-Western Region


  • Areas covered: Aravalli in Rajasthan and parts of Gujarat.
  • Major minerals: Copper, zinc, sandstone, granite, marble, gypsum, Fuller's earth, and salt (in Gujarat and Rajasthan).
  • Himalayan Belt: The Himalayan belt has rich deposits of copper, lead, zinc, cobalt, and tungsten.

Distribution of Key Mineral Resources in India
Distribution of Key Mineral Resources in India

Scope of the Mining Sector in India

  • Mining Operations: Mineral belts are hotspots for the extraction of resources like coal, iron ore, and limestone.
  • Industrial Development: These mineral deposits drive industrial growth, especially in sectors like steel and power generation.
  • Employment: Mining in these areas creates jobs, boosting local economies.
  • Revenue: Mineral extraction provides government revenue through royalties and taxes, supporting public infrastructure and welfare.
  • Infrastructure: Efficient transportation and regional growth necessitate infrastructure development in mineral belts.
  • Research: Mineral belts offer research opportunities for the discovery and assessment of deposits, expanding the mining sector.
  • Sustainability: These belts can uphold sustainable mining practices, promoting environmental protection and social responsibility. 

Challenges of the Mining Sector in India

  • Environmental Concerns: Balancing mineral extraction with sustainable environmental practices is a challenge due to potential impacts such as deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
  • Regulatory Framework: Complex regulations and legal requirements pose challenges for mining companies due to the intricate regulatory framework governing the mining sector in India.
  • Land Acquisition and Community Displacement: Acquiring land and managing community displacement present challenges for mining companies, necessitating careful planning, consent, and rehabilitation measures.
  • Infrastructure Development: It creates logistical and operational challenges for developing transportation networks and power supply crucial for efficient mineral extraction and processing.
  • Technological Advancements: The availability and adoption of modern technologies pose challenges for smaller mining companies and remote areas in maximizing mineral extraction, minimizing environmental impacts, and adopting advanced mining technologies and equipment. 

‘Sand Mining Framework’:

  • Ministry of Mines has prepared a ‘Sand Mining Framework’ in consultation with Mining Departments of the States incorporating best practices amongst States with the objectives of sustainability, availability, affordability and transparency in sand mining.
  • The ‘Sand Mining Framework’ has been circulated to all the State Governments for necessary action.
  • Moreover, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has issued Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016, which, inter-alia, addresses the issues relating to regulation of sand mining.

First ever report of India on “Critical Minerals for India”:

  • In June 2023, the Union Minister of Coal, Mines & Parliamentary Affairs unveiled the first ever report of the country on “Critical Minerals for India”, prepared by an expert team constituted by the Ministry of Mines.
  • Complementing the efforts of the Ministry, the Minister pointed out that it is for the first time India has identified the comprehensive list of critical minerals taking into account the requirements of sectors like defence, agriculture, energy, pharmaceutical, telecom etc.
  •  The effort is India’s roadmap for Aatmanirbharbharat, the Minister added.

Way Forward

  • Sustainable Mining Practices: Promote responsible techniques, advanced technologies, and community engagement.
  • Strengthen Regulatory Framework: Streamline regulations, reduce bureaucracy, and ensure effective monitoring.
  • Community Engagement and Consent: Involve local communities in decision-making and obtain their consent.
  • Infrastructure Development: Prioritize infrastructure investment for transportation, power, and water management.
  • Research and Development: Encourage collaboration and innovation for sustainable mining practices.
  • Capacity Building and Skill Development: Invest in training to enhance skills and promote responsible mining.
  • Stakeholder Collaboration: Foster dialogue among government, companies, communities, and environmental organizations. 
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