In India the distribution of minerals has not been even. These are mainly confined in the peninsular region of the country leaving aside the Northern Great Plains and the Himalayan region almost devoid of minerals. Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu states have large potentials of mineral resources in the country.
Most of the deposits of iron ore found in the Achaean rocks of Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; of manganese in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Maharashtra; of mica in Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka; of bauxite in Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat; of cyanide in Jharkhand, Bihar; and sillimanite in Meghalaya.
The states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Genetic West Bengal are deficient in mineral resources.
Following mineral belts may be clearly identified in the country:
1. Chota Nagpur Belt-this belt is associated with north-eastern part of the Peninsula incorporating the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. It mainly consists of ancient gneisses and granites and constitutes the richest mineralised zone of the country. The region abounds in coal, mica, manganese, chromites, limonite, bauxite, phosphate, iron ore, copper, dolomite, china-clay and limestone.
It contains about 100% reserves of cyanide, 93% of iron ore, 84% of coal, 70% of chromites, 70% of mica, 50% of fire clay, 45% of asbestos, 45% of china clay, 20% of limestone and 10% of manganese. Important mineral producing districts include Singhbhum, Hazaribag, Munger, Dhanbad, Ranchi, Palamau and Santhal Paragana (in Jharkhand), Sambalpur, Koraput, Keonjhar,Cuttack,Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal and Sundargarh (in Orissa); and Birbhum, Bankura, Purulia and Medinipur (in West Bengal) and Munger (in Bihar).
2. Midland Belt-this belt stretches over the states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. This belt produces most of the manganese ore, bauxite, mica, copper, graphite, limestone, lignite marble and limestone.
3. Southern Belt-this belt includes Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states where gold, iron ore, chromites, manganese, lignite, mica, bauxite, gypsum, asbestos, dolomite, limonite, china clay and limestone are important minerals.
4. Western Belt-it incorporates the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The belt is potentially very rich mineral area. It is rich in non- ferrous metals holding promise for copper, lead, zinc, uranium, mica, manganese, asbestos, salt, building stones, precious stones, natural gas and petroleum.
5. South-Western Belt-this belt extends over Karnataka, Goa and Kerala. It contains deposits of limonite, zircon, monazite sands, garnet, china clay, iron ore, bauxite, mica, limestone and soapstone.
6. Himalayan Belt-The Himalayan rocks pre-1 serve valuable minerals in pockets and vaults of ‘stratigraphic faults’. Copper, lead, zinc, bismuth, antimony, nickel, cobalt, tungsten, precious stones, gold and silver are known to occur at different places. Among these mention may be made of Almora magnetite, Satna limestone, Taradevi pyrite, Salal bauxite, Ramban gypsum, Parmandal betonies, and Missouri phosphorus. Coal deposits are found in the sub-Himalaya of eastern regions. Hydrocarbons are found in Assam and Meghalaya and natural gas
i n Himachal Pradesh foothills. Extensive deposits of cement and blast-furnace grade limestone and dolomite are present in the Triassic-Jurassic rocks of Kashmir, Shali belt (Himachal Pradesh), Krol formation (Uttaranchal) and Buxa group (Eastern Himalaya).
7. The Indian Ocean-The Indian Ocean is also a good source of minerals. Besides the availability of petroleum and natural gas in the off shore areas along the western and the eastern coasts the seabed contains manganese nodules, phosphorite nodules and barium sulphate concretions.
The manganese nodules are of high grade ore quality (manganese 25%, iron 18%). The best quality nodules are found in water depths of more than 4,000 m. Phosphorite nodules (P205 30%) are mainly found near the Andaman Islands and may be utilised in ferrtilizer industry. The Arabian Sea is richer in phosphate than the Bay of Bengal. Barium sulphate concretions have been dredged from about 1,235 m off Colombo in the Indian Ocean in 1880s.
These concretions contain over 75% barium sulphate, manganese;, calcium, barium, aluminum, iron, silicon, titanium, sodium, potassium, chromium, monazite, limonite, magnetite and garnet (Sukhwal, 1987, 113-114).