Capacity for large-scale production of various minerals was created in the public sector, which is summarized as follows:
The entire production of lignite, petroleum and natural gas, copper, lead zinc ores, gold, silver, diamond, tungsten concentrates, pyrites, rock phosphate, etc. was contributed from the mines operated under the public sector. In the infancy of mineral consuming industry, no significance was assigned to beneficiation of minerals; therefore, only high-grade minerals were mined.
With the concept of conservation of minerals assuming an important role, mineral processing plants were set up. National Metallurgical laboratory was established in 1950 for undertaking beneficiation tests. During the same year, the Metal Corporation of India set up the first beneficiation plant in the country to process its lead- zinc ore. A number of coal washeries were set up in the 1950s to beneficiate coking coal required for the steel plants.
As the significance of mineral processing was realised, Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) set up a pilot plant of 250 kg/hour capacity which played an important role in designing commercial beneficiation plants in the country. In order to meet the growing requirement in mineral beneficiation, IBM set up two processing laboratories at Ajmer and Bangalore followed by a modern plant at Nagpur. A number of beneficiation plants were set up in the mines producing copper ore, lead-zinc ore, manganese ore and iron ore.
India with diverse and significant mineral resources is the leading producer of some of the minerals. Of the 86 minerals produced in India, 4 are fuel minerals, 10 metallic, and 46 non-metallic, 3 atomic and 23 minor minerals. The share of the mineral sector in the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country is around 3.5 per cent while accounting for 10 per cent share in the index of industrial production.
Though 80% of the mines are in the private sector, yet 91% of the production in terms of size comes from the government owned mining ventures. Mining employs over 8, 00,000 persons. India is the largest producer of mica blocks and mica splitting; ranks third in the production of coal, lignite barites and chromites; 4th in iron ore, 6th in bauxite and manganese ore, 10th in aluminium and 11th in crude steel.
Iron-ore, copper-ore, chromites, zince concentrates, gold, manganese ore, bauxite, lead concentrates dolomite, barites, kaolin, gypsum-apatite and phosphorite, stealite and florite account for 92 per cent of non-metallic minerals.
Role of the Department of Mines:
The Ministry of Mines is responsible for the survey and exploration of all minerals, other than natural gas, petroleum, and atomic minerals; for mining and metallurgy of non-ferrous metals like aluminium, copper, zinc, lead, gold, nickel, etc. and for the administration of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957, in respect of all mines and minerals, other than coal, natural gas, petroleum, and atomic minerals. The following organisations operate under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Mines.
Contribution of the Public Sector:
The public sector contributes over 66, 51 (2010-11) per cent of the total value of mineral production. Public sector enterprises like the National Mineral Development Corporation, Kudremukh Iron Ore Company, Steel Authority of India Limited and Orissa Mining Corporation dominate the iron ore sector.
Two Public sector enterprises-National Aluminium Company and Bharat Aluminium Company, account for over 66 per cent of aluminium production in India. Hindustan Copper Limited predominates the copper ore mining sector, zinc-lead ore mining and processing is dominated by Hindustan Zinc Limited.
Bharat Gold Mines, a public enterprises of the Government of India and Hutti Gold Mines Limited (a Government of Karnataka undertaking), are engaged in the mining of gold. Rajasthan State Mines and Minerals Limited and Andhra Pradesh Mining Development Corporation predominate the mining of rock phosphate and barytes respectively.
Contribution of Other Government Organisations:
Geological Survey of India (GSI):
The GSI is the principal agency responsible for the assessment of geological and regional mineral resources of the country. GSI was established in 1851 and is one of India’s oldest investigative agencies in the field of earth sciences. Its areas of operation encompass scientific surveys and research, for locating mineral resources. GSI operates through six regional offices and four specialized wings-marine, coal geophysics, airborne surveys and training.
The GSI has to its credit geological mapping, covering an area of approximately 3.146 million sq. kms, or 94 per cent of the area of India. The maps are on a 1:63,360/1:50,000 scale, the data having been synthesized to produce 1:2,000,000 scale geological maps of India, which have been correlated with the global set up as per international standards.
The GSI is also actively involved in the research and development of mapping and exploration techniques. It has set up a chain of modern petro-logical paleontological, chemical, mineralogical, geochronological, geotechnical and geophysical laboratories in its different operational bases, and offers its facilities and services on payment.
GSI’s role has also crossed the shoreline of the country to include exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as well as extended continental shelf the surrounding ocean and also in the icy continent of Antarctica for geoscientific studies and inventory of resources. It has grown into one of the largest scientific organisations in the country with personnel strength of 11,420 to be achieved by March 2007.
Indian Bureau of Mines:
IBM is the principal government agency responsible for compling exploration data and mineral maps and for providing access to the latest information is respect of mineral resources in the country. IBM has both regulatory as well as service functions.
IBM offers technical expertise and proven experience in the fields of geology, mine planning and feasibility studies. The geological plans, preliminary geological appraisal of mineral properties, including the formulation of an initial scheme of detailed exploration with estimate of cost and preliminary reconnaissance, quick survey to determinate potential areas out of large properties etc.
IBM’s technical consultancy services include the preparation of techno-economic feasibility reports, evaluation of feasibility reports prepared by other consultants and organisations etc., production planning and grade control in working mines, evolution of flowcharts for minerals benefaction and agglomeration to scale up to large commercial plants and engineering design data for commercial plants.
Besides these technical consultancy services, IBM also performs regulatory functions, namely-enforcement of Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, Mineral Concession Rules, Mineral Conservation and Development Rules and compliance with Environmental Protection Act. IBM disseminates statistical information of mines, minerals, metals and mineral based industries through its various publications which are available for sale on commercial basis.
Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL):
MECL is a public sector company, which undertakes detailed exploration of various minerals/ores by drilling, and exploratory mining. It is also engaged in proving the existence of reserves for their ventual exploitation. Exploration is taken up both on a promotional basis on behalf of the Government of India and on contractual basis for other agencies. During 2005-06, MECL has established over 17,752.91 million tonnes of reserves for a variety of minerals and the gross revenue was 81.40 crore in 2005-06.