Fact Sheet



    India has a rich wealth of minerals. Mining and metallurgy activities in the country date back to the pre-Harappan period (4000 to 2500 BC). Studies confirm that a flourishing lead and zinc mining activity existed in Rajasthan during 1260-160 BC. Kautilya’s Arthashastra mentions rich revenues that mines yielded to the exchequer. For over 3000 years, the country was the only source of diamonds in the world and it is the home of the world’s oldest zinc technology.

Major Mineral Resources

    India is a leading producer of iron ore, bauxite, coal, lignite, aluminium, chromite, manganese ore, barytes, titanium and soap stone in the world. The country is also an emerging world player in industrial minerals. It is the largest producer of sheet mica in the world and accounts for 60% of the global mica trade. Mica deposits are mainly found in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. Coal is India’s largest mineral resource and it is the third largest producer of coal. Total estimated reserves are 211.59 billion tonnes. Lignite is mainly found in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan and total reserves are about 27.45 billion tonnes. Total recoverable reserves of haematite are about 10052 million tonnes and magnetite 3408 million tonnes. The country also has resources of copper, chromite, lead-zinc, manga nese, nickel and many other minerals.


    India has made significant strides in mineral development in the last 50 years. The mineral base which was 34 in 1947 increased to 64 comprising 4 fuel, 10 metallic and 50 non-metallic minerals. In addition, the country produces a number of atomic minerals and 22 minor minerals. Exploration of minerals is carried out not only over land, but also off shore and seabed. Enormous oil resources were discovered in Bombay High off-shore. India was conferred the status of pioneer investor by the UN in 1982 in sea-bed exploration along with France, Japan, USSR and 4 multinational companies. It is the first country in the world which has secured off-shore mining site of about 1,50,000 sq. km. area in the central part of Indian Ocean. This area could yield 3 million tonnes copper, 3 million tonnes nickel, 80 million tonnes manganese and 0.5 million tonne cobalt. The country has also developed technology for deep-sea mining.

    Ministry of Mines is responsible for survey and exploration of all minerals (except natural gas, petroleum and atomic minerals) and for mining and metallurgy of non-ferrous metals. Geological Survey of India (GSI) is the national organisation for locating mineral resources and systematic generation and continuous updating of geoscience information through ground, marine and air surveys. GSI has so far carried out geological mapping of 3.087 million sq. km. out of the toal 3,146 million sq. km. (98.13%) area of the country. Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL) is responsible for detailed exploration of various minerals/ores by drilling and exploratory mining and proving reserves for their eventual exploration. Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) is the national organisation engaged in promotion, conservation and scientific development of mineral resources other than coal, petroleum, natural gas, atomic minerals and minor minerals.

    Mining operations were by and large labour intensive in 1947. However, as a result of emergence of many public sector mining companies such as Steel Authority of India Ltd. Coal India Ltd., Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd., National Aluminium ompany Ltd., Hindustan Zinc Ltd., Hindustan Copper Limited, Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd., etc. large scale mechanisation and state-of-the-art technology have been adopted.



    The total value of minerals produced (excluding atomic minerals) during 1998-99 is Rs. 404.77 billion compared to Rs. 184.28 billion in 1990-91.

Production of Minerals (Value in Rs.Billion)

Mineral 1994-95 1995-96 1996-97 1997-98 1998-99(P)

Fuels 255.26 280.63 315.24 342.06 332.72

Metallic 22.11 25.88 27.09 31.38 30.47


Non-Metallic 11.38 13.40 13.98 15.76 16.51


Minor minerals 18.55 20.05 24.39 25.07 25.07

Total 307.30 339.96 380.70 414.27 404.77

Source : Indian Minerals Year Book, 1998-99


Production of Important Minerals, 1998-99

Minerals Qty Value in (Rs. Billion)
Coal 294 mts. 171.71
Lignite 23 mts. 9.27
Natural gas 195.22 mcm. 37.63
Crude Oil 33 mts 114.11
Iron Ore 71 mts. 17.57

Source : Indian Minerals Year Book, 1998-99

    The mineral sector consisting of 86 minerals (excluding atomic minerals) contribute 2.1% of GDP at current prices (as per Press Note released by CSO in February 2000 for the year 1998-99) and 10.5% of the total industrial production with base 1993-94 = 100. The total employment of labour for fuel and major minerals consisting of metallic and non-metallic is around 7,00,000. Over 3,000 mines are reporting production of these minerals (fuel and major minerals) in the country – 2329 private and 848 public sector mines. About 86% of the total value of production of all minerals but excluding atomic minerals come from Government owned ventures.

Opening up

    Under the constitution, mineral rights and the administration of mining are vested with the States Governments. The Centre, however, regulates the development of minerals under the Mines & Minerals Development & Regulation Act, 1957, and rules & regulations framed under it. The Indian Mineral Sector has undergone sweeping change since 1991. Before this mineral exploration and exploitation was being done primarily by the public sector. The post-91 scenario envisages a significant and leading role for private sector as well. The New Industrial Policy of 1991 followed by the new National Mineral Policy of 1993 and amendments to Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 in 1994 and 1999 opened up the Indian Mineral Industry to foreign investment and technological collaboration leading to a market-driven economy in the global context.

    These policy changes have attracted many multinational companies for investment in mineral exploration and mining. A total 64 prospecting licences over large areas covering an area of about 90,000 sq. kms. are presently under operation. Prospecting Licences over large areas have been granted in favour of Indian subsidiaries of prestigious international mining companies like BHP Minerals of Australia, Meridian Peak Resources of Canada, Metdist of UK, Phelps Dodge Corporation of USA and Rio Tinto of UK, etc. Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has so far cleared 60 proposals aggregating total investment of Rs. 3467 crores in the mining sector.

    To encourage Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in mineral sector, the Government have recently issued new guidelines as given below:

    "For all minerals with which the Department of Mines is concerned other than diamonds & precious stones, foreign equity holding upto 100% will be allowed on the automatic route, for both exploration and mining.

    In case of diamonds & precious stones, foreign equity upto 74% will be allowed on the automatic route for both exploration and mining operations. For proposals seeking higher than 74% foreign equity, the cases will have to come to FIPB for clearance".


    India has been a traditional exporter of minerals. The country exported minerals valued at Rs. 206.43 billion compared to imports of Rs. 346.55 billion (including import of crude oil) in 1997-98. The export turnover from minerals and metals constitutes about 20% of the total exports. Granite has become the third largest foreign exchange earner among minerals. The export turnover from granite and its products was Rs. 9.58 billion during 1998-99.

Export of Ore and Minerals (Value in Rs. Billion)

Mineral 1993-94 1994-95 1995-96 1996-97 1997-98

Diamond 112.08 123.57 153.74 142.99 160.15

Iron Ore 13.74 12.98 17.21 17.06 17.70

Granite 6.70 9.06 10.83 11.39 9.58

Precious stones 1.08 2.17 2.45 3.46 4.38

Marble 0.55 0.92 0.90 1.08 1.30

Bldg.stones 0.25 0.42 0.60 1.20 0.74

Chromite 0.73 1.03 1.61 2.25 1.49

Emerald 1.57 1.32 2.54 1.43 1.79

Others 5.96 6.84 8.31 8.70 9.30

Total 142.66 158.31 198.19 189.56 206.43

Source: IMYB, 1998 & 1999