Economic Important of Minerals

Minerals

  • Minerals are an indispensable part of our lives. Almost everything we use, from a tiny pin to a towering building or a big ship, all are made from minerals.
  • In all stages of development, human beings have used minerals for their livelihood, decoration ,festivities, religious and ceremonial rites.
  • Geologists define mineral as a “homogenous, naturally occurring substance with a definable internal structure.
  • Rocks are combinations of homogenous sustances called minerals.

i) Naturally occurring inorganic substances.

ii) Found in rocks beneath the earth’s surface in the form of compounds.

iii) Solid crystal structure. Have a definite chemical composition comprising one or more elements.

iv) Can be identified by their physical and chemical properties.

v) Different appearances and occur in various forms, in a wide range of colours, hardness, forms, lusture and density. As all minerals are formed from a certain combination of elements which depends upon the chemical and physical conditions under which the mineral forms. The geologists use these properties to categorise minerals.

Importance of Minerals

  • Everything we use, eat and drink has minerals.
  • Economic development of people or nations can be vastly accelerated by the presence of valuable minerals.
  • Make our life comfortable and convenient.
  • They are also responsible for all the biological processes on earth.

Rocks Containing Minerals

  • Compacted substances that comprise the earth’s crust are called rocks.
  • Rocks are the naturally formed aggregate of mineral particles. It is the minerals that impart their texture, colour, shape, hardness or softness to rocks. For example, limestone is a rock consisting of a single mineral.
  • Majority of rocks on the earth’s crust are a combination or an aggregate of different minerals.
  • Over 3000 minerals have been identified so far; only a few are abundantly found.

Mineral : A naturally occurring substance that has a definite chemical composition is a minerals.

Metallic Minerals : The metallic minerals contain metal in raw form. Metals are hard substances that conduct heat and electricity and have a characteristic lusture or shine. Iron ore, bauxite, manganese ore are some examples.

Rock : A rock is an aggregate of one or more minerals but without definite composition of constituent of mineral.

Ores : Rocks from which minerals are mined are known as ores. Although more than 2,800 types of minerals have been identified, only about 100 are considered ore minerals.

Mining : The process of taking out minerals from rocks buried under the earth’s surface is called mining.

Open Cast Mining : Minerals that lie at shallow depths are taken out by removing the surface layer; this is known as open cast mining.

Shaft mining : Deep bores, called shafts, have to be made to reach mineral deposits that lie at great depths. This is called shaft mining.

Drilling : Petroleum and natural gas occur far below the earth’s surface. Deep wells are bored to take them out, this is called drilling.

Quarrying : Minerals that lie near the surface are simply dug out, by the process known as quarrying.

Minerals generally occur in the following forms :

  • In igneous and metamorphic rocks minerals may occur in the cracks, cervices, faults or joints. The smaller occurrences are called veins and the larger are called lodes.
  • Major metallic minerals like tin, copper, zinc and lead etc, are obtained from veins and lodes.
  • In sedimentary rocks, minerals occur in beds or layers.
  • Coal and some forms of iron ore have been concentrated as a result of long periods under great heat and pressure. Another group of sedimentary minerals include gypsum, potash salt and sodium salt.
  • Another mode of formation involves 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.
  • ‘Placer deposits’ generally contain minerals, which are not corrroded by water. Gold, silver, tin and platinum are most important among such minerals.
  • Common salt, magnesium and bromine are largely derived from ocean waters. The ocean beds, too, are rich in manganese nodules.
  • In Meghalaya, coal mining in Jowai and Cherapunjee is done by family members in the form of a long narrow tunner, known as ‘Rat hole’ mining.
  • The concentration of mineral in the ore, the ease of extraction and closeness to the market paly an important role in affecting the economic viability of a reserve. When this is done a mineral ‘deposit’ or ‘reserve’ turns into a mine.

Ferrous Minerals

  • 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 fo industrial development. India is rich in good quality iron ores.
  • Magnetite is the finest iron ore with a very high content of iron up to 70 per cent.
  • Haematite ore is the most important industrial iron ore in terms of the quantity used but it has a lower iron content than magentite.
  • India has four major iron-ore belts:

i) Odisha-Jharkhand belt

ii) Durg-Bastar-Chandrapur belt lies in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra

iii) Ballari-Chitradurga-Chikkamagaluru-Tumakuru belt in Karnataka has large reserves of iron ore.

iv) Maharashtra-Goa belt includes the state of Goa and Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra.

  • Manganese is mainly used in the manufacturing of steel and ferro-manganese alloy.

i) It is also used in manufacturing bleaching powder, insecticides and paints.

ii) Odisha is the largest producer of manganese ores in India.

Non-Ferrous Minerals

  • Non-ferrous minerals include copper, bauxite, lead, zinc and gold play a vital role in a number of metallurgical , engineering and electrical industries.
  • Being malleable, ductile and a good conductor, copper is mainly used in electrical cables, electronics and chemical industries.
  • The Balaghat mines in Madhya Pradesh, Khetri mines in Rajasthan and Singhhum district of Jharkhand are leading producers of copper.
  • Bauxite deposits are formed by the decomposition of a wide variety of rocks rich in aluminium silicates.
  • India’s bauxite deposits are mainly found in teh Amarkantak plateau, Maikal hills and the plateau region of Bilaspur-Katni.
  • Odisha was the largest bauxite producing state in India.

Non-Metallic Minerals

  • Non-Metallic Minerals : The non-metallic minerals do not contain metals. Limestone, mica and gypsum are examples of such minerals. The mineral fuels like coal and petroleum are also non-metallic minerals.

i) Mica is a mineral made up of a series of plates or leaves.

ii) Due to its excellent di-electric strength, low power loss factor, insulating properties and resistance to high voltage, mica is one of the most indispensable minerals used in electric and electronic industries.

iii) Koderma Gaya – Hazaribagh belt of Jharkhand is the leading producer. In Rajasthan, the major mica producing area is around Ajmer. Nellore mica belt of Andhra Pradesh is also an important producer in the country.

iv) Limestone is found in association with rocks composed of calcium carbonates or calcium and magnesium carbonates.

v) Limestone is the basic raw material for the cement industry and essential for smelting iron ore in the blast furnace.

Hazards of Mining

  • 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 are a constant threat to miners.
  • The water sources in the region get contaminated due to mining.
  • Dumping of waste and slurry leads to degradation of land, soil, and increase in stream and river pollution.
  • Stricter safety rules and implementation of environmental laws are necessary to prevent mining from becoming a “killer industry”.

Conservation of Minerals in India

All types of minerals are exhaustible resources. Other serious problems associated with minerals are production and accumulation of wastes at various stages of mining, processing as well as use.

  • Efficiency in Mining : Present technologies are inadequate in terms of their efficiency. The world has yet to evolve a really efficient technology suited to present day environment called the technology of beneficiation, e.g. A lot of feed stock went waste during petroleum refining; today these wastes are utilized to make many by-products.
  • Substitues : Scarce minerals can be substituted by developing biodegradable alternatives. e.g., Copper was earlier used extensively in electrical industries. But now besides alumnium, many other minerals are used to conserve precious copper.
  • Recycling : Mini steel plants are using scrap iron all over the world, which is the best examples of recycling. It helps reduce wastes, but efficient recycling technologies have yet to be developed. Recycling is very expensive. Problems also arise on account of mixing together of various types of minerals, otherwise products made from iron, copper, lead, zinc and almost all types of minerals can be recycled for more.
  • Minimised Exports :¬†Exports should be minimised and value added manufactured products should be exported.

Most dynamic elements in mineral are conservation ,technology as well as ecosystem management. Assessing the future demand for resources, proper planning is also a conservative technique. It also includes the use and disposal of wastes which constitutes the earth’s greatest environment pollutants.

Energy Resources

  • Energy is required for all activities. It is needed to cook , to provide light and heat, to propel vehicles and to drive machinery in industries.
  • The chief sources of power are energy from fossil fuels, such as coal, petroluem, natural gas, nuclear materials, falling water, sun, wind, etc.
  • Wind, sunrays and falling water are converted into electricity while others like coal, petroleum and natural gas are applied directly in motor vehicles and machines.
  • Fossil fuels require combustion, they produce many gases and wastes causing damage to the environment. Two-fifths of the global energy consumption comes from burning oil and the rest from burning coal and natural gas.

i) Energy resources can be classified as conventional and nonconventional sources.

ii) Conventional sources include : firewood, cattle dung cake, coal , petroleum, natural gas and electricity.

iii) Non-conventional sources include solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, biogas and atomic energy.

Conventional Sources of Energy

  • Non-Renewable sources of energy : These source of energy are exhaustible. The deposits cannot be renewed or replenished after use. Example-fossil fuels.
  • Coal : Coal is the prime source of energy , often called the “Mother of Industries” or “Black Gold”. It was the basis of industrial revolution. It is used as a raw material in the iron and steel and chemical industries. It is the main fuel for producing thermal power.

i) Coal is the most abundantly available fossil fule in India.

ii) It is used for power generation, to supply energy to industry and for domestic needs.

iii) Coal is formed due to compression of plant material over millions of years.

Four types of coal:

i) Peat : Less than 50% carbon and burns like wood.

ii) Lignite : 60% carbon, low grade coal. It is called “brown coal”.

iii) Bituminuous : 60-80% carbon content, widely used and commercially most important.

iv) Anthracite : Contains 80% carbon, hard, black and compact, found only in Jammy and Kashmir. It is the highest quality of hard coal.

  • The major reserves fo Gondwana coal, which are metallurgical coal, are located in Damodar valley.
  • Jharia, Raniganji, Bokaro are important coalfields. The Godavari, Mahanadi, Son and Wardha valleys also contain coal deposits.
  • Tertiary coals found in the north eastern states of Meghalaya, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

Petroleum

  • Petroleum provides fuel for heat and lighting, lubricants for machinery and raw materials for a number of manufacturing industries.
  • Petroleum refineris serve as ‘nodal industries’ for chemical , fertilizer and synthetic textile industries as various products are obtained during refining petroleum.
  • About 63% of India’s petroleum production is from Mumbai High, 18% from Gujarat and 16 per cent from Assam.
  • Ankeleshwar is the most important field in Gujarat. Assam is the oldest oil-producing state of India.

Natural Gas

This is clean energy resources associated with petroleum. Used as a source of energy as well as an industrial raw material in the petrolechemical industry.

  • Natural gas is considered an environmental friendly fuel because of low carbon emissions and is, therefore, the fuel for the present century.
  • Along the west coast the reserves of the Mumbai High and allied fields are supplemented by finds in the Gulf of Cambay. Andaman and Nicobar islands are also important areas having large reserves of natural gas.
  • Use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for vehicles to replace liquid fuels is gaining wide popularity in the country.

Electricity

Electricity is obtained in three ways which are termed as hydro-electricity, thermal electricity and nuclear electricity.

  • Electricity is generated mainly in two ways: by running water which drives hydro turbines to generate hydro electricity and by burning other fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas to drive turbines to produce thermal power.
  • 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.
  • There are over 310 thermal power plants in India.

Non-Conventional Sources of Energy

Following are the six main non-conventional sources of energy: namely , solar energy, wind energy, biomass energy, geothermal energy, tidal energy and hydro power.

  • Rising prices of oil and gas and their potential shortages have raised uncertainties about the sercurity of energy supply in future, which has serious repercussions on the grwoth of the country’s economy.

Renewable Sources of Energy

These energy resources can be replenished. They may be renewed after use. Example-solar energy, wind energy , etc.

  • Renewable energy sources like solar energy, wind, tide, biomass and energy from waste material. These are called nonconventional energy sources.
  • Nuclear or Atomic Energy 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.
  • Uranium and Thorium are available in Jharkhand and the Aravalli ranges of Rajasthan.
  • The Monazite sands of coastal area of Kerala are also rich in Thorium.
  • Being a tropical country India has enormous possibilities of tapping solar energy.
  • Solar energy is fast becoming popular in rural and remote areas of the country.
  • Solar power plants will minimise the dependence of rural households on firewood and dung cakes, which in turn will contribute to environmental conservation and adequate supply of manure in agriculture.

Biomass Energy

  • It is produced from shurbs, farm waste, animal and human waste for domestic consumption in rural areas.
  • The plants using cattle dung are known as ‘Gobar gas plants’ in rural India. These provide twin benefits to the farmer in the form of energy and improved quality of manure.
  • It improves the quality of manure and also prevents the loss of trees and manure due to the burning of fuelwood and cow dung cakes.
  • Oceanic tides can be used to generate electricity which is known as Tidal Energy.
  • In India the Gulf of Khambhat and the Gulf of Kuchchh in Gujarat on the western coast and Gangetic delta in Sunderban regions of West Bengal have ideal conditions for utilizing tidal energy.

Geothermal Energy

  • The heat energy from beneath the surface of the earth is used to generate electricity.
  • There are hunderds of 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 basic requirement for economic development. Every sector of the economy needs inputs of energy for its development.
  • Most of the energy resources are limited.
  • Due to industrialization, modernisaton and urbanisation, the consumption of energy in all forms has been steadily rising all over the country.

How Can We Conserve Energy Resources?

  • Need to develop a sustainable path of energy development, i.e. energy development but not at the cost of environment or needs of future generation.
  • Judicious use of limited energy resources.
  • Wastage of minerals should be minimized.
  • Modern technology should be used for the exploitation of energy resources.
  • Export of energy resources should be minimised.
  • Use of substitutes in order to save energy resources.
  • Encouraging recycling of energy resources.