India is richly endowed with minerals. Our country possesses more than 100 minerals. Out of 100 minerals, there are 30 minerals which have economic significance. Some of the examples are coal, iron ore, manganese, bauxite, mica, etc.
The situation is also satisfactory in felspar, florides, limestones, dolomite and gypsum, etc. But the reserves of petroleum and some non-ferrous metallic minerals especially copper, lead, zinc, tin, graphite are inadequate. Non-ferrous minerals are those which do not contain iron. Country fulfills internal demands for these minerals by importing them from other countries.
India was least industrialised and most of the minerals were exported during British period. After independence though export continues but also mineral production has picked up in consonance with the increasing industrial demands in the country. As a result the total value of all minerals produced in the country reached about Rs 744 billion in 2004-05 from Rs 892 million in 1950-51. Therefore, there has been 834 times increase during the past fifty five years.
If we look at mineral wise break up it has been found that fuel minerals (coal, petroleum, natural gas and lignite) accounted for about 77%, metallic minerals for about 10% and non-metallic minerals for about 3% of total value of minerals produced.
In metallic mineral category, iron ore, chromite, manganese, zinc, bauxite, copper, gold are important minerals whereas in non-metallic category limestone, phosphorite, dolomite, kaolin, magnesite, barytes and gypsum are important.
If we look at individual minerals in terms of value, then coal (36.65%) followed by petroleum (25.48%), natural gas (12.02%), iron ore (7.27%), lignite (2.65%), lime stone (2.15%) and chromite (1.1%) are the few minerals that contributes more than one percent each of the total value of all minerals produced in the country.
In India mineral resources are very unevenly distributed. Most of the minerals are found in the ancient crystalline rocks of the Deccan and Chhotanagpur Plateau. Some minerals are found in the Himalayan region, although they are difficult to exploit.
Minerals are broadly divided into two groups: metallic and non metallic minerals. Metallic minerals are further subdivided into ferrous and non ferrous minerals.
Ferrous minerals are those which contain iron in substantial quantity. Ferrous minerals account for about three-fourth of the total value of the production of metallic minerals. They constitute the most important mineral group after fuel minerals. They include iron, manganese, chromite, pyrite, etc. These minerals provide a strong base for the development of metallurgical industries, particularly iron, steel and alloys.
Non ferrous minerals are those which do not contain iron. They include gold, silver, copper, tin, lead and zinc. These metallic minerals are highly important in day to day life. However, India is very poor and deficient in all of these minerals.
A large number of non-metallic minerals are found in India but only a few of these are commercially important. They are limestone, dolomite, mica, kyanite, sillimanite, gypsum and phosphate. These minerals are used in a variety of industries such as cement, fertilizers, refractories and electrical goods.