Steatite, also called as soap stone or potstone, is a hydrous silicate of magnesium. It is mainly found in ultrabasic igneous rocks and metamorphosed dolomite limestone. Being the softest mineral it is used in a number of industries like soap- making, toilet preparations, cosmetics, pot making, paint making, rubber and textile industries.
On account of its fire-resisting property it is also employed for making coverings for boilers and steam-pipes, jets for gas-burners, fire-proof boxes, hearth-stones etc. It is also used as paper filler and for dressing skins and leather. Being non conductor of electricity, steatite is used for electrical switch-board.
India’s production of steatite amounted to 34,186 tons valued at Rs. 13.39 lakhs in 1951 which increased to 540,570 tons valued at Rs. 309.9 millions in 1995-96 depicting about 16 times increase in quantity and 231 times in value of production during last 45 years. During 2002-03 it rose to 675,789 tones rallied at Rs. 330.09 millions.
Rajasthan alone accounts for 80.33 per cent of total steatite production of the country (in 2002- 03). Other important producers are Andhra Pradesh (6.22%), Uttaranchal (12.5%), Madhya Pradesh (0.11%), and Orissa (0.31%).
Rajasthan-Rajasthan with vast reserves is the foremost producer of steatite (80.33%) in the country. Here steatite deposits carry the mineral in thick ventricular beds of wide extent in the schist’s. Some of these beds persist for kilometers.
There are 152 large and small deposits located in the districts of Jaipur, Udaipur, Bhilwara, Sawai Madhopur, Dungarpur, Banswara, Alwar and Jodhpur districts; the first three accounting for over 80 per cent of the state’s production. In Jaipur district steatite mainly occur near Dogeta (reserves 240,000 tonnes), Gisgarh, Dausa, Kawa, Morra-Bhandari and Niwai. Here it is white or pale in green colour. In Udaipur district steatite is found near Jeoria village, Brahman-ka Varla, Bansra, Rikhadeo, Deopura and Lauhavali. Here the mineral is greenish grey and greyish white and foliated.
In Bhilwara steatite has been located near Chandpur, Kishangarh and Bugwasa. Here it is of white colour, free from grit, finely granular and massive. Sawai Madhopur district has steatite deposits at Divain, Rajauli and Garhi; reserves being 1.07 lakh tones.
Andhra Pradesh-Andhra Pradesh is the third major producer of steatite (6.22% in 2002-03) in the country. Here most of the deposits are located in the metamorphosed magnesium limestone of the Cuddapah system. Main producers are Anantapur, Chittoor, Kurnool, Cudapah, Nellore and Vishakhapatnam districts.
India: State wise Production of Steatite, 2002-03
States Production Percent of all-Others-Deposits of steatite are also found in following states:
Uttar Pradesh – Uttaranchal-Almora, Himirpur, Garhwal, and Jhansi districts.
Madhya Pradesh – Chhattisgarh-Jabalpur (Gowari and Lalpur), Jhabua, Balaghat, Betul, Chhatarpur, Sidhi, Durg and Tikamgarh districts.
Orissa-Balasore (near Tiring, Kendumundi and Kharidamak), Mayurbhanj, Cuttack and Sundargarh districts.
Bihar-Jharkhand-Singh hum (Turamdih and Kudada south of Tatanagar), Dhanbad, Ranchi, Gaya. Hazaribagh and Shahabad districts.
Tamil Nadu-Salem, Tiruchchirappalli, North and South Arcot, Coimbatore districts.
Karnataka-Bangalore, Bellary (near Mallapur, Neelaguda and Yerrahalli), Hassan, Shimoga, Belgaum, Bijapur, Tumkur, Mysore, Dharwad and Dakshina Kannada districts.
Gujarat-Sabarkantha (Ghanta, Vartha and Thuravas) district.
Maharashtra-Bhandara, Chandrapur (at Tursa), Ratnagiri, and Yeotmal districts.
West Bengal-Darjeeling, Medinipur and Purulia districts.
India exports some steatite mainly in block and powder form to Japan, U.K., Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Norway and Australia. In 1993-94 the export amounted to 13,028 tons valued at Rs. 579 lakhs.