Minerals and Energy Resources
We know that the earth’s crust is made up of different minerals embedded in the rocks. Various metals are extracted from these minerals after proper refinement.
Minerals are a very important part of our lives. Cars, buses, trains, airplanes, and many more are manufactured with minerals. Even though our foods also contain minerals.
What is a mineral?
Geologists define a mineral as a “homogenous, naturally occurring substance with a definable internal structure.”
Rocks are combinations of homogenous substances called minerals.
Minerals are found in varied forms in nature ranging from the hardest diamond to the softest talc.
Mode of occurrence of minerals
Minerals are usually found in “ores”. The term ore is used to describe an accumulation of any mineral mixed with other elements.
Minerals occur in these forms:
- In igneous and metamorphic rocks minerals may occur in the cracks, crevices, faults, or joints. The smaller occurrences are called veins and the larger ones are called lodes. Major metallic minerals like tin, copper, zinc, lead, etc. are obtained from veins and lodes.
- In sedimentary rocks a number of minerals occur in beds or layers. Other groups of sedimentary minerals include gypsum, potash salt, and sodium salt.
- The decomposition of surface rocks, and the removal of soluble constituents, leaving a residual mass of weathered material containing ores. Bauxite is formed this way.
- Certain minerals may occur as alluvial deposits in the sands of valley floors and the base of hills. These deposits are called ‘placer deposits’ and generally contain minerals like gold, silver, tin, and platinum.
- The ocean waters contain vast quantities of minerals like common salt, magnesium, and bromine.
India is fortunate to have mineral resources. Peninsular rocks contain most of the reserves of coal, metallic minerals, mica, and many other non-metallic minerals. Sedimentary rocks on the western and eastern flanks of the peninsula, in Gujarat and Assam, have most of the petroleum deposits. Rajasthan with the rock systems of the peninsula has reserves of many non-ferrous minerals. The vast alluvial plains of north India are almost devoid of economic minerals.
|Rat-Hole Mining – In areas of northeast India, minerals are owned by individuals or communities, and In Meghalaya, there are large deposits of coal, iron ore, limestone, dolomite, etc. Coal mining in Jowai and Cherapunjee is done by a family member in the form of a long narrow tunnel, known as ‘Rat hole mining.
Ferrous minerals account for about three-fourths of the total value of the production of metallic minerals. They provide a strong base for the development of metallurgical industries.
- Iron ore is the basic mineral and the backbone of industrial development. India is a good resource of iron ore. Magnetite is one good example of iron ore with 70% of iron.
- Hematite ore is industrial iron ore with an iron level of 50 to 60 %.
- In 2018–19 almost the entire production of iron ore (97%) accrued from Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, and Jharkhand. The remaining production (3%) was from other states.
The major iron ore belts in India are:
|In Odisha high-grade hematite ore is found in Badampahar mines in the Mayurbhanj and Kendujhar districts. In the adjoining Singbhum district of Jharkhand, haematite iron ore is mined in Gua and Noamundi.
|Durg-Bastar-Chandrapur belt lies in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Very high grade hematites are found in the famous Bailadila range of hills in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh. The range of hills comprises of 14 deposits of super high-grade hematite iron ore. It has the best physical properties needed for steel making. Iron ore from these mines is exported to Japan and South Korea via Vishakhapatnam port.
|Ballari-Chitradurga-Chikkamagaluru Tumakuru belt
|The ballari-Chitradurga-Chikkamagaluru Tumakuru belt in Karnataka has large reserves of iron ore. The Kudremukh mines located in the Western Ghats of Karnataka are a 100 percent export unit. Kudremukh deposits are known to be one of the largest in the world. The ore is transported as slurry through a pipeline to a port near Mangaluru.
|The Maharashtra-Goa belt includes the state of Goa and the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. Though the ores are not of very high quality, they are efficiently exploited. Iron ore is exported through Marmagao port.
- Manganese is used in the manufacturing of steel and ferromanganese alloys.
- 10 kg of manganese is required to manufacture one tonne of steel.
- It is also used in manufacturing bleaching powder, insecticides, and paints.
India’s reserves and production of non-ferrous minerals are not very satisfactory. Non-ferrous minerals include copper, bauxite, lead, zinc, and gold. They play a vital role in a number of metallurgical, engineering, and electrical industries.
The distribution of copper and bauxite.
- India is critically deficient in the reserve and production of copper.
- Being malleable, ductile, and a good conductor, copper is mainly used in electrical cables, electronics, and chemical industries.
- The Balaghat mines in Madhya Pradesh, the Khetri mines in Rajasthan, and the Singhbhum district of Jharkhand are leading producers of copper.
- Aluminium obtains from bauxite. Bauxite deposits are formed by the decomposition of a wide variety of rocks rich in aluminum silicates.
- Aluminium has good conductivity and great malleability with mental strength.
- India’s bauxite deposits are mainly found in the Amarkantak plateau, Maikal hills, and the plateau region of Bilaspur-Katni.
- Odisha was the largest bauxite-producing state in India in 2016-17.
- Panchpatmali deposits in the Koraput district are the most important bauxite deposits in the state.
- Mica is a mineral that has thousands of layers in a mica sheet.
- Mica can be clear, black, green, red yellow, or brown.
- It is the most indispensable mineral which is used in electric and electronic industries.
- Mica deposits are found on the northern edge of the Chota Nagpur plateau. Koderma Gaya – Hazaribagh belt of Jharkhand is the leading producer.
- In Rajasthan, the major mica-producing area is around Ajmer. The nellore mica belt of Andhra Pradesh is also an important producer in the country.
- Limestone is found in rocks composed of calcium carbonates or calcium and magnesium carbonates.
- Limestone is the basic raw material for the cement industry and essential for smelting iron ore in the blast furnace.
|Hazards of Mining
What are the impacts of mining on the health of the miners and the environment?
The dust and noxious fumes inhaled by miners make them vulnerable to pulmonary diseases.
The risk of collapsing mine roofs, inundation, and fires in coal mines is a constant threat to miners.
The water sources in the region get contaminated due to mining.
Dumping of waste and slurry leads to the degradation of land, and soil, and increases in stream and river pollution.
Conservation of Minerals
Industries and agriculture are strongly dependent upon mineral deposits. We are continuously using mineral resources and the geological processes of minerals are slow. Mineral resources are finite and non-renewable. It takes a long time for formation and concentration. Continued extraction of ores leads to increasing costs of minerals along with a decrease in quality. Recycling metals, and using scrap metals and other substitutes are steps in conserving our mineral resources for the future.
- Energy is required for all activities of daily life. Energy can be generated from fuel minerals like coal, petroleum, natural gas, and uranium and from electricity.
- Energy resources can be classified as conventional and non-conventional sources.
- Conventional sources include firewood, cattle dung cake, coal, petroleum, natural gas, and electricity (both hydel and thermal).
- Non-conventional sources include solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, biogas, and atomic energy. Firewood and cattle dung cake are most common in rural India.
- In India, coal is the most abundantly available fossil fuel. It is used for power generation, supplying energy to industry, and domestic needs.
- Coal is found in a variety of forms depending on the degrees of compression and the depth and time of burial.
Types of coal
|Lignite is a low-grade brown coal, which is soft with high moisture content. It contains (35% – 25%) of carbon. It is found in the region of Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Jammu & Kashmir.
|It is a medium grade of coal containing (86% – 45%) carbon. Mainly used to generate electricity. Bituminous coal is found in Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh.
|It is the highest grade of coal containing (97% – 86%) carbon. It is known as hard coal, and its colour is black. This type of coal is mainly used by the metal industry.
- Coal occurs in rock series of two main geological ages, A. Gondwana and B. Tertiary coals
- Gondwana – Gondwana, is a little over 200 million years in age.
The major resources of Gondwana coal, which are metallurgical coal, are located in Damodar valley (West Bengal Jharkhand). Jharia, Raniganj, and Bokaro are important coalfields. The Godavari, Mahanadi, Son, and Wardha valleys also contain coal deposits.
- Tertiary deposits – Tertiary is only about 55 million years old.
Tertiary coals occur in the north-eastern states of Meghalaya, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Nagaland.
- Petroleum or mineral oil is India’s next major energy source after coal.
- It provides fuel for heat and lighting, lubricants for machinery, and raw materials for a number of manufacturing industries.
- Petroleum refineries act as a “nodal industry” for synthetic textile, fertilizer, and numerous chemical industries. Most of the petroleum occurrences in India.
- Mumbai High, Gujarat, and Assam are major petroleum production areas in India.
- Natural Gas is found in petroleum deposits and is released when crude oil is brought to the surface.
- It is used as fuel in the power sector to generate electricity, for heating purposes in industries, as raw material in chemical, petrochemical and fertilizer industries, as transport fuel and as cooking fuel. with the expansion of gas infrastructure and local city gas distribution (COD) networks, natural gas is also emerging as a preferred transport fuel (CNG) and cooking fuel (PNG) at homes.
- reserves of natural gas have been discovered in the Krishna-Godavari basin.
- Electricity is generated mainly in two ways: by running water which drives hydro turbines to generate hydroelectricity and by burning other fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas to drive turbines to produce thermal power.
- Hydroelectricity is generated by fast-flowing water, which is a renewable resource. India has a number of multi-purpose projects like the Bhakra Nangal, Damodar Valley Corporation, the Kopili Hydel Project etc. producing hydroelectric power.
- Thermal electricity is generated by using coal, petroleum and natural gas. Thermal power stations use non-renewable fossil fuels for generating electricity.
Non-conventional Sources of Energy
Renewable energy sources like solar energy, wind, tide, biomass and energy from waste material. These are called non-conventional energy sources.
Nuclear or Atomic Energy
- It is obtained by altering the structure of atoms. When such an alteration is made, much energy is released in the form of heat and this is used to generate electric power.
- Uranium and Thorium are used for generating atomic or nuclear power.
- India is a tropical country. It has enormous possibilities of tapping solar energy.
- Photovoltaic technology converts sunlight directly into electricity.
- India has great potential for wind power. Wind power is used to generate electricity.
- The largest wind farm cluster is located in Tamil Nadu from Nagercoil to Madurai.
- Shrubs, farm waste, and animal and human waste are used to produce biogas for domestic consumption in rural areas.
- ‘Gobar gas plants’ in rural India.
- These provide twin benefits to the farmer in the form of energy and improved quality of manure.
- Oceanic tides can be used to generate electricity.
- In India the Gulf of Khambhat, the Gulf of Kuchchh in Gujarat on the western coast, and the Gangetic delta in the Sunderban regions of West Bengal provides ideal conditions for utilizing tidal energy.
- Geothermal energy refers to the heat and electricity produced by using the heat from the interior of the Earth.
- There are several hundred hot springs in India, which could be used to generate electricity. Two experimental projects have been set up in India to harness geothermal energy. One is located in the Parvati valley near Manikarn in Himachal Pradesh and the other is located in the Puga Valley, Ladakh.
Conservation of Energy Resources
- Energy is a basic requirement for economic development. Every sector of the national economy – agriculture, industry, transport, commercial and domestic – needs inputs of energy.
- In this modern era we can’t imagine our lives without energy so, we need to conserve it.
- In this background, there is an urgent need to develop a sustainable path of energy development. The promotion of energy conservation and increased use of renewable energy sources are the twin planks of sustainable energy.
- India is presently one of the least energy-efficient countries in the world.
- As concerned citizens we can do our bit by using public transport systems instead of individual vehicles; switching off electricity when not in use, using power-saving devices and using non-conventional sources of energy. After all, “energy saved is energy produced”.
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