Mineral is a naturally occurring substance having a definite chemical composition and atomic structure, and formed by inorganic processes. About 2,000 minerals are known. But in economic geography the term is used for any naturally occurring material that is mined and is of economic value. Mineral generally occurs in the earth’s crust in the form of ore.
It is extracted, processed and utilised for economic benefits of the society. The availability of the mineral wealth and the level of its exploitation have direct bearing on the economic and social development of the region. So much so that exploitation and utilization of minerals denote the national power of a state or country.
A deficiency of food can be overcome through better management of agriculture and import but the extraction or importation of minerals is not so easy, because mineral resources are more narrowly localized than crops. With proper care and management, soil can produce food indefinitely, whereas minerals are exhaustible and nonrenewable and are, therefore, considered an unstable factor in nation’s economic development. But unlike food resources which deteriorate in quality with time mineral resources can be stored and conserved for a pretty long time.
In India thousands of years ago people was well familiar with the occurrence and use of different kinds of minerals. Metallurgy was at its zenith much before the era of Christ. Alloys consisting of eight metals and rust-free steel were made to manufacture items of worship, war and domestic use. But the discovery, extraction, processing and fabrication of different minerals, on modern lines, started with the British regime.
During colonial days attempt was confined to mine minerals and ship them to Britain and Western countries in the form of raw ores. It is after independence that a number of factories have been built up to process and fabricate these minerals.