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Mining - coal and other minerals

Mineral production in India dates to as far back as 6,000 years or so, as remains of a few mines have proven. Geological and metallogenic history of India is similar to mineral rich Australia, South Africa, South America and Antarctica, as they formed a contiguous landmass prior to the breaking up of Gondwanaland. India was world's leading mineral producer at 200,000 tons per annum back in late 18th century.

Possessing a rich wealth of mineral resources and a flourishing mining industry producing 84 minerals out of which 4 are fuel minerals, 11 metallic, 49 non metallic and 20 minor minerals.

In India, 80% of mining is coal and the rest is iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, chromite, limestone, asbestos, fluorite, gypsum, ochre, phosphorite and silica sand.

Coal Industry Coal Industry


Coal mining in India dates back to the 18th century, however the regulatory framework for this industry was conceived in 1923. In 1972-73, the Indian government nationalized the coal industry. India has a good reserve of coal and lignite. As on March 2011, the estimated reserves of coal was around 286 billion tones and the estimated reserve of lignite was 41 billion tonnes, of which 80% was in the southern State of Tamil Nadu.

India's coal and lignite production
Central Statistics Office of India

  Coal production (million tonnes) Lignite production (million tonnes)

Coal Industry highlights:

  • As on March 2011, a total of 52 washeries, both PSUs and Private, were operating in the country. The total installed washing capacity was 131 million tonnes (MT) per annum considering, both Coking (29.69 MTY) and Non-Coking  Coal (101.55 MTY).
  • India is the third largest producer of coal in the world, after USA and China.
  • Coal is one of the primary sources of energy in India. 70% of power generation is coal-based.
  • India has the fourth largest reserves of coal in the world.
  • Coal deposits in India occur mostly in thick seams and at shallow depths.
  • Non-coking coal reserves aggregate 85 per cent, while coking coal reserves are the remaining 15 per cent.
  • Indian coal has high ash content (15-45%) and low calorific value.

Energy and Environment
27 November 2006, Forbes magazine
 (Unit: million short tonnes)




Recoverable Coal Reserves



Coal Production



Coal Consumption



Mining of other minerals:

  • According to the Gemological Institute of America, up until 1896, India was the only source for diamonds to the world. 
  • The GDP contribution of the mining industry varies from 2.2% to 2.5%. Indian Mining Industry provides job opportunities to around 700,000 individuals.
  • According to the 2008 Ministry of Mines estimates, India has the third rank among the chromite producers of the world.
  • India is the world's largest producer and exporter of mica, accounting for almost 60 percent of the net mica production in the world, which it exports to the United Kingdom, Japan, United States of America etc.
  • India ranks third in production of coal & lignite, third in barites, fourth in iron ore, sixth in bauxite and manganese ore, eleventh in crude steel, and tenth in aluminium.
  • India accounts for 12% of the world's known and economically available thorium.
  • As one of the largest producers and exporters of iron ore in the world, its majority exports go to Japan, Korea, Europe and the Middle East.
  • India also has one of the largest deposits of manganese in the world, and is a third leading producer as well as exporter of manganese ore, which it exports to Japan, Europe (Sweden, Belgium, Norway, among other countries), and the United States of America. Its estimated reserves are 180 million tons.
  • Iron ore deposits are estimated at 19.2 billion tons (world's largest) and Bauxite (Aluminum ore) deposits are estimated at 2.7 billion tons (8% of world's total). Copper reserves of India are estimated at 422 million tons.
  • An estimated 85 billion tonnes of mineral reserves remain to be exploited. Besides coal, oil and gas reserves, the mineral inventory in India includes 13,000 deposits/ prospects of 61 non-fuel minerals.
  • India is wholly or largely self-sufficient in about 36 minerals constituting primary raw-materials for thermal power generation, iron and steel, aluminum, cement, refractories, ceramics, glass and inorganic chemicals.
MineralsContribution of other governmental organizations:

High quality geological database has been generated by national agencies like the Geological Survey of India, Mineral Exploration Corporation, National Remote Sensing Agency, National Geophysical Research Institute and Indian Bureau of Mines. This database is accessible on a commercial basis and makes investment in mining exploration in India a low-risk investment proposition.

The recent discovery of high value minerals like gold, diamond and tungsten in certain areas has enhanced the possibility of further exploration and exploitation of such minerals.


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