Human welfare and availability of mineral recourses have been linked together so closely and for so long historians mark major periods of human history by reference to minerals, such as stone, bronze, copper and iron ages etc. Cheap and plentiful supply of minerals provided the physical foundation for our present-day Industrial Civilization. Even today, society’s overall prosperity depends largely on the supply of mineral products.
The term mineral resources refer to a wide variety of materials obtained from earth. In general they can be divided into following two categories:
1. Metallic minerals:
Minerals which when processed provide metals such as Iron, Aluminium, Copper, Zinc etc.
2. Non-metallic minerals:
Minerals which yield products other than metals such as phosphate rocks, potash, soda-ash, various salts, clay, sand and stones etc.
To these may be added materials which provide energy such as coal, oil, natural gas etc. In view of their tremendous importance for the mankind, they have been discussed separately.