(i) Almost all rocks are made of minerals.
(ii) They have high aesthetic value e.g. Gemstones.
(iii) They are having natural resource value:
(a) Source of metals needed for electronic manufacture, airplanes, cars, etc.
(b) Raw materials for making window glass, plaster, etc.
Types of minerals :
Minerals are broadly classified into two categories: metallic and non-metallic. Metallic minerals are further sub-divided into ferrous and non-ferrous materials. Non-metallic minerals comprise of mineral fuels, precious stones, etc.
2. Mineral resource of India:
India produces and works with roughly 100 minerals, which are an important source for earning foreign exchange as well as satisfying domestic needs. We import graphite, mercury, cobalt etc. and export iron ore, granite, bauxite, titanium, manganese, etc. The distribution of minerals in the country is uneven and mineral density varies from region to region.
Coal, iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, copper etc. are found in the North Eastern Peninsular Belt located in Chota Nagpur Plateau and the Orissa Plateau covering the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa. These regions are called the mineral heartland of India.
Gems, marble, coal, mica, graphite, manganese etc. exist in large quantities in Central Belt located in Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Central Belt is the second largest belts of minerals in the country.
i. According to the 2008 Ministry of Mines estimates:
ii. India ranks 2nd in the production of chromite, barites
iii. India ranks 3rd in the production of coal and lignite,
iv. India ranks 4th in the production of iron ore,
v. India ranks 5th in the production of bauxite and crude steel,
vi. India ranks 7th in the production of manganese, and
vii. India ranks 8th in the production of aluminium
3. The environmental effects of extracting and using mineral resources :
The major environmental impacts of extracting and using mineral resources are:
(i) Degradation of land due to excavations.
(ii) Pollution of air due to emission of dust and poisonous gases during mining and processing stages.
(iii) Pollution of ground and surface water resources due to accidental or periodic discharge of pollutants.
(iv) Damage to local ecological functions, nutrient cycling and biodiversity due to alterations in water availability or quality.
(v) Deforestation including to loss of flora and fauna.
(vi) Problem in rehabilitation of affected population.
(vii) Problems in providing living environment and clean water, air, etc. for the survival of large number of workers who have migrated nearby mine sites.
(viii) Occupational health hazards.
(ix) Problems in the safe disposal of tremendous amounts of solid waste generated during mining.
4. Conservation of mineral resources :
The mineral resources are very essential for the growth and development of a country. Ever increasing population in the world with improved life styles is responsible for the rapid consumption of mineral resources. The geological processes of mineral formation are so low that the rates of replenishment are very small in comparison to the present rates of consumption. Thus, mineral resources are valuable but they will be available for limited time.
A sincere effort has to be made in order to use the mineral resources in a planned and sustainable manner. The following steps are very useful for the conservation of mineral resources:
(i) Encourage use of improved technologies so as to minimize waste generation.
(ii) Encourage recycling of metals.
(iii) Encourage utilization of low grade minerals, mineral waste, etc.
(iv) Regulate the use of mineral resources.
(v) Reduce the purchase of unwanted products made from mineral resources.
(vi) Encourage research for providing suitable eco-friendly alternatives for fossil fuels, metals, etc.