Distribution of key Natural Resources across the World UPSC Notes

This article talks about Distribution of Key Natural Resources Across the World – UPSC Notes.


Resource: “Anything that can be used to satisfy a need is a resource”.

A resource is a source or supply from which benefit is produced. Typically, resources are materials, energy, services, staff, knowledge, or other assets that are transformed to produce benefit and, in the process, maybe consumed or made unavailable. Benefits of resource utilization may include increased wealth, meeting needs or wants proper functioning of a system, or enhanced well-being. From a human perspective, a natural resource is anything obtained from the environment to satisfy human needs and wants.

All resources have two things in common- Utility and Value.

Utility: Utility or Usability is what makes a substance a resource.

Value: Value refers to its worth. Some resources have tangible economic value like petrol, while others might not have an economic value, but they will still be resources, like a beautiful landscape, fresh air, etc.

An important point to be remembered is that, “Resources are not, they become.” – Zimmerman.

The utility of a substance or object depends upon the time and the technology available. Time and technology are two important factors that can change substances into resources. Both are related to the needs of the people. People themselves are the most important resource. It is their ideas, knowledge, inventions, and discoveries that lead to the creation of more resources. Each discovery or invention leads to many others. The discovery of fire led to the practice of cooking and other processes while the invention of the wheel ultimately resulted in the development of newer modes of transport. The technology to create hydroelectricity has turned energy in fast-flowing water into an important resource.

Classification of Resources

Resources are broadly classified as – Natural Resources, Human-made resources, and Human Resources.

Natural Resources: Natural resources are the materials provided by nature that can be directly or indirectly used by humans for their personal or economic gain. Earth’s natural resources are vital to the survival and development of the human population. A natural resource’s value rests in the amount available and the demand for it.

Some examples of natural resources are: Sunlight, Water, air, minerals, Plants and animals etc.

Depending upon various factors, Natural Resources are further classified into different categories.

1) Based on the need of development:

On the basis of the need for development, the resources are classified as – Directly usable resources and resources that need development.

Resources that need development are further classified into –

  • Actual Resources
  • Potential Resources

Actual Resources: Actual resources are those which are currently being used. They are already surveyed and quantified to a large extent. Eg- Coal, petroleum, metal ores, Forests, etc.

Potential Resources: These are those resources that are present in a region but are not currently used. This can be due to the non-availability of technology or the proper amount. These resources can be potentially used in the future. E.g. Thorium found in Kerala is a potential resource that can be used in the future.

2) Based on the origin of Natural Resource:

On the basis of origin, natural resources are classified into Biotic and Abiotic.

Abiotic Natural Resource: These resources have an inorganic origin i.e. they comprise of nonliving things like land, water, air, metals, etc.

Their use and viability depend upon their accessibility and their value. Their total reserve cannot be increased by human efforts.

Biotic Natural Resources: These resources have an organic origin. These include forests and forest products, flora and fauna, and also coal, petroleum, etc.

3) Based on availability and distribution of the resource:

This is the most famous classification which you must have read many times.

On the basis of availability, the natural resources are classified as –

  • Renewable Resources
  • Non-Renewable Resources

Renewable resources are those which can be replenished by nature in a short period of time. These include air, water, crops, forests, etc. However, their rate of replenishment can differ according to the resource.

Non-renewable resources are formed over a very long geological period. These include minerals and fossil fuels. Since their rate of formation is very slow, they cannot be replenished quickly once they are used. Hence their supply is limited and exhaustible. There are some resources which can be recycled, like metals, etc. while some resources cannot be recycled e.g. Coal, natural gas, etc.

After the Industrial revolution and the population blast, the demand for these resources increased exponentially. This not only resulted in quick depletion of these resources but also caused an ecological imbalance, destruction of habitat and pollution.

To prevent all this destruction, the idea of Sustainable development was put forward.

Mineral Resources

A mineral is a naturally occurring inorganic solid, with a definite chemical composition, and an ordered atomic arrangement. This may seem a bit of a mouthful, but if you break it down it becomes simpler.

  • Minerals are naturally occurring, They are not made by humans
  • Minerals are inorganic, They have never been alive and are not made up of plants or animals
  • Minerals are solids, They are not liquids (like water), or gases (like the air around you)
  • Minerals have a definite chemical composition, Each one is made of a particular mix of chemical elements
  • Minerals have an ordered atomic arrangement, The chemical elements that make up each mineral are arranged in a particular way – this is why minerals ‘grow’ as crystals.

Minerals are valuable natural resources being finite and non-renewable. They constitute the vital raw materials for many basic industries and are a major resource for development. Management of mineral resources has, therefore, to be closely integrated with the overall strategy of development; and exploitation of minerals is to be guided by long-term national goals and perspectives.

Types of Minerals

Minerals are broadly classified into following ways:

classification of minerals

Extraction of Minerals

Extraction of Minerals

Open Cast Mining: Open-pit mining, also known as opencast mining, open-cut mining, and strip mining, means a process of digging out rock or minerals from the earth by their elimination from an open pit or borrow.

The word is used to distinguish this type of mining from extractive methods that need tunneling into the earth. Open-pit mines are used when deposits of commercially helpful minerals or rock are found close to the surface; that is, where the overburden (layer material covering the valuable deposit) is comparatively thin or the material of interest is structurally inappropriate for tunneling.

Shaft Mining: Shaft mining is a form of underground mining using shafts driven vertically from the top down into the earth to access ore or minerals. Shaft mining or shaft sinking refers to the method of excavating a vertical or near-vertical tunnel from the top down, where there is initially no access to the bottom.

Drilling: Petroleum and natural gas occur far below the earth’s surface. Deep wells are bored to take them out, this is called Drilling.

Quarrying: Quarrying, open, or surface, excavation of rock used for various purposes, including construction, ornamentation, road building, and as an industrial raw material.

Uses of Minerals:

Following points can be cited as the general uses of the minerals:

  • Mineral resources can be found in almost every aspect of our lives. Granite is widely used as building stone is one of the hardest rocks found in nature. It is made up of three minerals – quartz, feldspar, and mica. Gypsum is used in a plaster cast which is used on broken arms or legs.
  • The lead-in your pencil is made from graphite while crayons and paints are made from talc.
  • The fireworks are made from a combination of various minerals, a yellow-colored mineral called sulfur, one among them, also used for making matches and explosives, sulphuric acid, fertilizers, chemicals, and dyestuff.
  • Copper is a good conductor of heat and electricity obtained from a metallic mineral called chalcopyrite or copper pyrite. It is so flexible that it can be rolled into flat sheets, wires, and other shapes. Hence, copper is used extensively in various electrical appliances. It is also used to make electrical cables and wires, switches, coins, cooking utensils, and water pipes. Copper is also used in plumbing, heating, roofing, and construction.
  • Iron is another very important metal that is obtained from minerals such as limonite, hematite, and magnetite. These minerals are called iron ores. Iron is mainly used to manufacture steel. Iron and steel are used in almost all industries for manufacturing ships, airplanes, cars, cycles, trucks, and vans.
  • They are widely used in the construction industry to make building support and structures. Iron is also used in the manufacture of computers, and office stationery like staples, nails, and paper clips.
  • The mineral manganese is a key component in the production of iron and steel. Today, the technique devised by the Hittites is called smelting of iron.
  • Aluminum is another very important metal that is obtained from its ore, bauxite. It is used in the manufacture of automobiles and airplanes, and building and electrical materials. It is also used in the bottling and canning industries; kitchen cookware and foil, and a personal product like deodorants and cosmetics.
  • Gold and silver are rare metals that are popularly used to make jewelry. They are also used to make medallions and coins and in dentistry and medicine.
  • Certain minerals, called gemstones, are also used to make jewelry. They are hard and come in many beautiful colors. Some gemstones, like diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies, are rare and very expensive and are known as precious stones.
  • Some gemstones, like turquoise, garnet, amethyst, aquamarine, topaz, moonstone, peridot, and opal, are not as rare and so are known as semi-precious stones.
  • Gemstones are first cut and polished, then set into precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum to make artistic jewelry.
  • Diamond is the hardest mineral found on the earth and so is used for making cutting tools that are used for cutting other gemstones.
  • Minerals are also very essential for all living beings.
  • Iron is present in every living cell. It is very essential for the production of hemoglobin, which is the primary component of red blood cells. Other minerals like zinc, manganese, copper, and fluoride are also required in very small amounts in our diet.

Need for Conservation of Minerals:

Minerals are non-renewable resources. They cannot be replenished and their new reserves created once these are depleted. Also, these are an earthly treasure which belongs to entire mankind of present and future generations.

They have a decisive role cultural, social, and economic development of mankind. We have moral and social obligations to conserve them, avoid their misuse, and waste: preserve them for use in the future.

This could only be possible through the adoption of conservation techniques. In India, conservation strategy is more important because of the scarcity of certain important minerals that need conservation and new technological revolution currently going on in the count which will evolve better mining and processing technology in future for judicious exploitation of mineral resources.

Conservation Measures:

There are three basic ways of conserving minerals for future use – reduce, recycle, reuse.

You can reduce the amount of waste you create by choosing what rubbish you throw away. Recycling means to return a waste product to a place where it is remade into either the same product or something different. The reuse of metals will also help in reducing the rate of consumption, and help in the conservation of minerals.

Apart from this, the following measures can be taken by the government:

  • New researches should be undertaken to find out and develop ‘replacement minerals’ for us in place of scarce minerals which are in short supply and are going to be depleted soon.
  • Researches should also be carried on to develop new technology which should avoid wastage and promote maximum utilization of by-products.
  • There should be curbing on wasteful mining methods. Miners should be imparted training to adopt new techniques of mining, use the latest technology and machines, and take maximum precaution to cause little damage to the environment.
  • There should be proper development of infrastructural facilities in mining areas, suite location for processing plants and refineries, and encouragement to private sectors to establish research units and adequate provision for financial support and loans.
  • Processing plants should invariably be coated in mining areas to reduce transport costs. In the case of weighty materials like coal it is better to convert it into coking coal or in electricity near the pitheads.
  • There is a great scope for the expansion of several mineral-based industries which open a new vista for economic development.
  • New explorations should be carried on to find out locations and new areas of minerals using the latest technology. In the case of Indian seafloor, exploration and mining may yield a good dividend.

Distribution of Key Natural Resources in the World

Distribution of key Natural Resources across the World

It has been seen that most of the countries in the world are having natural resources. Some have less amount while other countries are rich in a particular natural resource. Economists stated that natural resources add wealth to nations.

When it is evaluated for resource distribution around the world, Australia has many natural resources. These resources include mineral resources, such as copper, gold, and diamonds, energy resources, such as coal, oil, and uranium, and land resources that are used for farming and logging. These resources are financially important to Australia. Many people consider that the monetary system of Australia is resource-dependent, which means that if these resources were to be depleted, Australia’s economy would suffer. Australia has more coal than is needed and so exports it to countries like Japan which are lacking in it. Australia does not, however, produce enough oil to meet the demands of consumption and it is forced to import it. Some countries, especially developing nations, have the availability of natural resources but they do not use them fully. Sometimes countries do not have a great demand for the resource or simply lack the technology to develop or extract it. Rich transnational corporations (TNCs) often pay a fee to do the mining or extraction of natural resources and then export them to developed countries.

Mineral resources: Australia is a major producer of minerals on a global scale. The most important mineral resources in Australia are bauxite, gold, and iron ore. Other mineral deposits in Australia include copper, lead, zinc, diamonds, and mineral sands. Australia is also one of the leaders in uranium and gold mining. The country has the largest gold reserves in the world, supplying over 14% of the world’s gold demand and 46% of the world’s uranium demand. Australia is the top producer of opal and aluminum. A majority of Australia’s minerals are excavated in Western Australia and Queensland. The minerals mined in Australia are exported, or shipped abroad.

Energy resources: Australia has huge deposits of coal. Coal is generally found in the eastern part of the country in the Sydney and Bowen basins. Majority of Australian coal is exported to nations like Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Western Europe. The rest of the coal mines in Australia are burned for electricity within Australia.

Natural gas is also plentiful in Australia. Natural gas is used to heat homes and power certain types of vehicles. Natural gas reserves in Australia are mostly found in Western Australia and central Australia. Since most of these reserves are far away from metropolitan centers, gas pipelines have been built to transport natural gas to cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. Some of this natural gas is exported from where it is collected. Natural gas collected in Western Australia is exported directly to Japan in liquid form.

When discussing about natural resources in Africa, It is revealed in reports that Africa is rich in natural resources including diamonds, salt, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, silver, petroleum, and cocoa beans, but also woods and tropical fruits. Russia is excessively capable of natural resources, but industrial development was hindered until the twentieth century by their Siberian inaccessibility.

Russia now produces 20 percent of the world’s natural gas, and oil is also a valuable commodity. Russia is self-sufficient in all major industrial raw materials and contains reserves of less essential, but significant natural resources, including diamonds and gold. Russia is a leading producer of aluminum, arsenic, cement, copper, magnesium metal, and compounds such as nitrogen, palladium, silicon, and vanadium. The nation is the second-largest exporter of rare earth minerals.

Industrialized nations have benefits over poor countries because if they do not have the quantity or type of natural resources which they require, they can afford to import them. Developed countries need to import natural resources because they depend on them for the development of their economy. Their use of natural resources is considered a well-planned and constructive industry. It has been recommended that developed nations use more of the natural resources of the world as compared to other developing nations. Reports have signified that while developed countries account for 25 percent of the world’s population, they use 75 percent of the world’s natural resources.

Geographical Distribution of Oil and Natural Gas Deposits: It was documented in reports that about 70 % of global conventional oil and natural gas reserves are concentrated inside a so-called Strategic Ellipseî stretching from the Middle East to the North of West Siberia. Main consuming regions in 2004 were North America, Austral-Asia, and Europe, for natural gas North America, CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) and Europe.

When appraising the distribution of natural gas, it is found in reports that about 41 % of global reserves are in the Middle East, about 32 % in the CIS countries and about 8 % in Africa.

Regarding iron core resources in the world, the USA is rich in this resource. Ore is mined in the red mountains and Birmingham Valley. Northern New Jersey, the states of Utah, Nevada, and California also are rich in the iron core.

In Canada, there are three main areas where the iron core is mined that include Ontario, Quebec, and newfound land. Canada has an estimated $33.2 trillion worth of commodities and the third-largest oil deposits after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. The commodities that the country owns include industrial minerals, such as gypsum, limestone, rock salt, and potash, as well as energy minerals, such as coal and uranium. Metals in Canada include copper, lead, nickel, and zinc, and precious metals like gold, platinum, and silver. Canada is the leading supplier of natural gas and phosphate and is the third-largest exporter of timber.

In Europe, Germany, France, Sweden, and the UK are large producers of Iron ore. Ukraine has the sixth position in the world in producing iron ore and it produced 4.32 percent of the world’s production in 2006. Krivoi Rog of Ukraine possesses the best iron ore having a 68.5 percent metallic percentage. It contributes 75 percent production of Ukraine. The estimated reserves of the region are more than 200 million tons. Other regions of Ukraine are Zaporozhe, Zdanow, Lipetsk, and Kerch Peninsula.

South Africa is also a major iron ore producing country of the African continent and ranks 8th in the world iron ore production. In South Africa, Transvaal is the main iron ore-producing center. Transvaal is having high-grade ore with 60 to 65 percent iron content. The total reserves have been estimated at 10 billion tons in South Africa. The average annual production of South Africa is 4 million metric tons.

Distribution of key natural resources in South Asia:

When appraising the regions of South Asia, it has been found that these provinces have enormous natural resources and ecological and biological diversity. Many researchers have recognized that The Southeast Asian states today are rich in natural resources and are major world producers of rubber, tin, copra, palm oil, petroleum, and timber (Chia 1999). However, population growth and economic development are intimidating the region’s rich heritage through the expansion and intensification of agriculture, the unrestrained growth of industrialization, the destruction of natural homes, and urban extension. Southeast Asia has a lavish source of hydrocarbon resources natural gas and petroleum.

China – China tops the list for having the most natural resources estimated to be worth $23 trillion. Ninety percent of China’s resources are coal and rare earth metals. However, timber is another major natural resource found in China. Other resources that China produces are antimony, coal, gold, graphite, lead, molybdenum, phosphates, tin, tungsten, vanadium, and zinc. China is the world’s second-largest producer of bauxite, cobalt, copper, manganese, and silver. It also has chromium and gem diamond.

Distribution of Key Mineral Resources in India:


Ferrous Metals

Iron Ore –
  • The value of annual iron ore production exceeds the combined output of all other ferrous and ferroalloy minerals. The bulk of this production is used in the manufacturing industry.
  • Major iron-ore reserves in India occur in the peninsular plateau within crystalline schist rocks of Dharwar and Cuddapa systems.
  • Mainly oxide form of iron-ores is widespread in India, of which by far hematite (Fe2O3) is most important, followed by Magnetite (Fe3O4) and Limonite (Fe3O4.2H2O). Carbonate iron ore, i.e., Siderite, is almost absent in India.
  • Recent estimates revealed that the total amount of Indian iron-ore reserve is about 20,710 million tonnes, out of which 12,317 million tonnes may be classed as hematite and 540 million tonnes are of magnetite in grade. (Don’t mug these numbers- just remember the percentage of ore)
  • Hematite varieties are generally abundant in the peninsular plateau; comprising Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka. Indian hematite is of very high grade, containing more than 70% ferrous content.
  • Magnetite ores are abundant in the southern iron-ore producing states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. Indian magnetites are to some extent inferior in grade, compared to hematite, containing on an average 62% iron.
  • India is one of the leading producers of iron ore in the world. Among the consuming industries, Cement Industry is the second major consumer of iron ore after the Iron & Steel industries (including Sponge Iron Industry).
  • Generally, low-grade iron ore is used in the manufacture of cement. Iron ore improves the burning properties of cement. It imparts color and also balances the composition of cement.
  • India is the world’s largest producer of sponge iron or Direct Induced Iron (DRI) with a host of coal-based units located in the mineral-rich states of the country.
  • China is the world’s largest producer of pig iron. China is by far the largest producer, consumer, and importer of Iron ore.
  • The production of iron ore was 200.95 million tonnes in the year 2017-18, showing an increase of about 3% as compared to that in the preceding year.
  • Among the States, Odisha recorded the highest production of 102.17 million tonnes, i.e., about 50.84% of the country’s total production in 2017-18.
  • However, the production of iron ore has not gradually increased.
  • Like iron-ore, manganese ores are also abundant in the Dharwar and Kuddapa series of the Precambrian era. The total reserve of Indian manganese exceeds 406 million tonnes. Indian ores contain more than 50% manganese associated with lesser impurities. India ranks sixth in the world in manganese production.


  • The bulk of the manganese is extracted from the mines of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, and Bihar.
  • In Madhya Pradesh, the major manganese mining region is located in the districts of Balaghat, Chindwara, and Shahdol district. Manganese ores are widespread in the Singbhum district of Jharkhand. Maharashtra is also rich in manganese reserve.
  • Chromite is an important Ferro-alloy used in the refractory and chemical industry.
  • The total estimated chromite (FeCr2O3) reserve in India is more than 200 million tonnes.
  • Important chromite deposits are found in the Cuttack and Keonjhar districts of Orissa, Chitradurga, Hassan, Shimoga districts of Karnataka, Bhandara, and Ratnagiri districts of Maharashtra, Singbhum district of Jharkhand, and several other small deposits in other states.
  • The major ore of tungsten is wolfram tri-oxide or WO3.
  • The estimated reserve of tungsten is around 38.11 million tonnes.
  • Chief producing areas are Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

Non – Ferrous Metals

  • Bauxite (Al2O3.2H2O), considered as the primary ore of aluminum, occurs in India in substantial amounts. Bauxite is found mainly in tertiary deposits and is associated with laterite rocks occurring extensively either on the plateau or hill ranges of peninsular India and also in the coastal tracts of the country.
  • Bauxite is found in most countries, but the larger deposits occur in the tropics.
  • According to the latest estimate, the total reserve of bauxite in the country is around 2,462 million tonnes.
  • India ranks 5th in her bauxite production (annually) in the world and 7th largest bauxite reserves of the world.
  • The state of Odisha is the largest producer of bauxite in India. The main deposits occur in Kalahandi, Korapur, Bolangir, Sundargarh, and Sambalpur districts. The smelting plants have been developed at Damanjoli and Doragurha.
  • As the indigenous aluminum industry is still ill-developed, a large amount of bauxite is generally exported to the developed countries.
  • Bauxite deposits are scattered in India in the states of Odhisa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, and several other states.
  • The distributional pattern of bauxite deposits reveals close proximity of its location with iron ore deposits.
  • Jharkhand ranks second in bauxite deposits where Palamau, Lohardaga, Ranchi, and Monghyr districts contain some prestigious bauxite mines.
  • National Aluminium Company (NALCO) is a Navaratna PSU of the Government of India, which is Asia’s largest and the world’s seventh-largest producer of aluminum.
  • Major copper ores extracted in India are bornite, chalcopyrite, and tetrahedrite.
  • Among these, according to volume and quality, chalcopyrite is the most important.
  • Major copper-producing states in India are Madhya Pradesh (Malanjkhand belt), Rajasthan (Khetri-Singhana belt), and Jharkhand.
  • Madhya Pradesh has become the largest producer of copper in India.
  • The major copper mines are the Khetri copper belt in Rajasthan, Singhbhum copper belt in Jharkhand, and Malanjkhand copper belt in Madhya Pradesh which are mined by HCL.
  • Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) is a Central Public-Sector Enterprise (CPSE), Mini Ratna (Category-I) Schedule-A company. HCL is the only company in India engaged in the mining of copper ore, beneficiation, smelting & refining, and downstream products. HCL is listed on the BSE and NSE.
  • Major copper-producing states in India are Madhya Pradesh (Malanjkhand belt), Rajasthan (Khetri-Singhana belt), and Jharkhand.
  • Madhya Pradesh has become the largest producer of copper in India
  • Khetri copper belt is in Rajasthan.
  • Singhbhum copper belt is in Jharkhand.
  • Malanjkhand copper belt is in Madhya Pradesh.
Lead and Zinc Ore
  • Chief lead ore is Galena (PbS) and Sphalerite is the major zinc ore.
  • The total combined reserve of lead and zinc ores are estimated at about 179 million tonnes, out of which 2.3 million tonnes of lead and 10 million tonnes of zinc may be classed as a recoverable reserve.
  • Zinc ores are mostly found in places like Zawar, Balaria, Mochia Mogra of Rajasthan.
  • Apart from zinc, lead deposits are also found at Dhanbad of Bihar and the South Arcot district of Tamil Nadu.

Non-Metallic Minerals

  • India has a vast reserve of gypsum, ranging from about 238 million tonnes.
  • Gypsum deposits mostly occur in Bikaner, Jaisalmer, and Udaipur in Rajasthan and the Runn of Kutch in Gujarat.
  • Apart from these two principal producing states, some gypsum also occurs in Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu.
  • The total Indian reserve of gypsum is around 239 million tonnes.

The mica group of sheet silicate (phyllosilicate) minerals includes several closely related materials having nearly perfect basal cleavage. Mica is widely distributed and occurs in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary regimes. Large crystals of mica used for various applications are typically mined from granitic pegmatites.

  • Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of Mica in India followed by Rajasthan and Jharkhand.
  • Nellore in AP is known for producing the largest quantity of crude mica.

Limestone is a sedimentary rock, composed mainly of skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral, forams, and molluscs. Its major materials are the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate (CaCO3).

About 10% of sedimentary rocks are limestones. The solubility of limestone in water and weak acid solutions leads to karst landscapes, in which water erodes the limestone over thousands to millions of years. Most cave systems are through limestone bedrock.

Limestone has numerous uses: as a building material, an essential component of concrete (Portland cement), as aggregate for the base of roads, as white pigment or filler in products such as toothpaste or paints, as a chemical feedstock for the production of lime, as a soil conditioner, or as a popular decorative addition to rock gardens.

  • Reserve of limestone is placed at 75,679 million tonnes. Limestone ores are widespread in several states.
  • Leading production centers are located in Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Bihar.
  • Limestone (CaCO3) is extensively used in the paper, cement, and fertilizer industries.
  • Guntur, Kurnool, and Khammam districts of Andhra Pradesh, Gulbarga district of Karnataka, Raipur, and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, and Son Valley of Bihar are the leading limestone- producing areas.

It is an anhydrous carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate, ideally CaMg (CO3)2. The term is also used for a sedimentary carbonate rock composed mostly of the mineral dolomite. An alternative name sometimes used for the dolomitic rock type is dolostone.

  • The dolomite reserve in India was identified as 4,387 million tonnes.
  • It is mainly used in the production of iron & steel.
  • Reserves are distributed over Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajsthan, Karnataka etc.

Cobalt is an important ferromagnetic strategic alloying metal having irreplaceable industrial applications. Cobalt is associated mostly with copper, nickel, and arsenic ores. Cobalt is extracted as a by-product of copper, nickel, zinc, or precious metals.

  • The major use of cobalt is in metallurgical applications, in a special alloy/superalloy industry, in magnets and cutting tools industries. Cobalt is used as precursors (cobalt compounds) for cathodes in rechargeable batteries. The largest demand for cobalt has been from the Rechargeable Battery Industry.
  • Cobalt powder finds an important application as a binder in the production of cemented tungsten carbides for heavy-duty and high-speed cutting tools. It is also used on bonded tools for Diamond Industry. Presently, there is no production of cobalt in the country from primary cobalt resources. The demand for cobalt is usually met through imports.

Energy Resources

Energy is required to perform various activities in every field. Heat and electricity are two different forms of energy. The most common sources of generating heat and electricity are firewood, coal, petroleum, and natural gas. These sources are called conventional sources of energy.

sources of energy
Conventional Sources of Energy
  • The sources of energy have been in use for a long time, e.g., coal, petroleum, natural gas, and water power.
  • They are exhaust able except for water.
  • They cause pollution when used, as they emit smoke and ash.
  • They are very expensive to be maintained, stored, and transmitted as they are carried over long distances through transmission grids and lines.
Non-Conventional Sources of Energy
  • The resources are yet in the process of development over the past few years. It includes solar, wind, tidal, biogas, and biomass, geothermal.
  • They are inexhaustible.
  • They are generally pollution-free.
  • Less expensive due to local use and easy to maintain.

Firewood is primarily used for cooking and heating. However, it is not a very convenient and eco-friendly source of energy. Collecting firewood and cooking with it is time-consuming and also burning firewood releases carbon monoxide in the air. This results in air pollution and higher levels of greenhouse gases. Firewood is also the main cause of deforestation.

Fossil Fuels:

Fossils are the remains of plants and animals that were buried under the earth for millions of years. Coal, petroleum, and natural gas are fossil fuels as they are formed from fossils.


Coal accounts for about 40% of the world’s electricity production, according to the International Energy Agency.

Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock with a high amount of carbon and hydrocarbons. Coal is classified as a nonrenewable energy source because it takes millions of years to form. Coal contains the energy stored by plants that lived hundreds of millions of years ago in swampy forests.

  • The plants were covered by layers of dirt and rock over millions of years. The resulting pressure and heat turned the plants into a substance now known as coal.
  • Coal is classified into four main types, or ranks: anthracite, bituminous, lignite, and peat.
  • The ranking depends on the types and amounts of carbon the coal contains and on the amount of heat energy the coal can produce. The rank of a coal deposit is determined by the amount of pressure and heat that acted on the plants over time.
  • China, the US, India, Australia, and Indonesia are the top five coal-producing nations of the world.
  • A large amount of good quality coal has already been mined out. At present only 10,000 million tonnes of coal in India may be regarded as good quality coal.

Indian coal deposits were formed in two distinctly separate geological periods, Gondwana and Tertiary. Among these the Gondwana variety is high-grade coal, ranging from bituminous to sub-bituminous, containing 60 to 80 percent carbon.

It was deposited between the permo-carboniferous to the cretaceous period. The Permian series coal is regarded as the best among the Gondwana coal series.

Among different coal-producing states of India, Jharkhand possesses the largest amount of coal, followed by Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra.

Coal reserve

Raniganj coalfield is located in West Bengal. The first coal mine was opened in 1774 at Raniganj. Jharia, Bokaro, Girdih, and Karanpura are the major coalfields in Jharkhand. Talcher field in Odisha ranks second in reserves (24,374 million tonnes) after Raniganj.

India is the 3rd largest producer of coal. Coal production stood at 676.51 million tonnes in FY18. India has the 5th largest estimated coal reserves in the world, standing at 308.802 billion tonnes in FY16.

There are four major types (Rank) of coal. Rank refers to steps in a slow, natural process called “coalification,” during which buried plant matter changes into an ever denser, drier, more carbon rich, and harder material. The four ranks are:

  • Anthracite: The highest rank of coal. It is a hard, brittle, and black lustrous coal, often referred to as hard coal, containing a high percentage of fixed carbon and a low percentage of volatile matter.
  • Bituminous: Bituminous coal is middle-rank coal between sub-bituminous and anthracite. Bituminous usually has a high heating (Btu) value and is the most common type of coal used in electricity generation in the United States. Bituminous coal appears shiny and smooth when you first see it but look closer and you may see it has layers.
  • Subbituminous: Subbituminous coal is black in color and dull (not shiny), and has a higher heating value than lignite.
  • Lignite: Lignite coal, aka brown coal, is the lowest grade coal with the least concentration of carbon.
  • Peat is not actually coal, but rather the precursor to coal. Peat is a soft organic material consisting of partly decayed plant and, in some cases, deposited mineral matter. When peat is placed under high pressure and heat, it becomes coal.

Petroleum and Natural Gas

  • Petroleum is another important conventional/non-renewable source of energy. The word petroleum means rock oil and is found between layers of rocks in the form of a thick black liquid.
  • In its raw form petroleum is called crude oil which is drilled from oil fields located in offshore and coastal areas. The major petroleum-producing countries in the world are Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
  • A major advantage of petroleum is that it can be easily transported in tankers. Natural gas is another fossil fuel that is traditionally used as a source of energy. It is found with petroleum deposits and is released when the crude oil is brought to the surface.
  • Petroleum and petroleum products are mainly used as motive power. It is a compact and convenient liquid fuel that has revolutionized transportation on land, in the air, and on water. It can be easily transported from the producing areas to the consuming areas with the help of tankers and more conveniently, efficiently, and economically by pipelines.
  • It emits very little smoke and leaves no ash, (as is the case in coal utilization), and can be used up to the last drop. It provides the most important lubricating agents and is used as an important raw material for various petrochemical products.
  • Millions of years ago, algae and plants lived in shallow seas. After dying and sinking to the seafloor, the organic material mixed with other sediments and was buried. Over millions of years under high pressure and high temperature, the remains of these organisms transformed into what we know today as fossil fuels. Coal, natural gas, and petroleum are all fossil fuels that formed under similar conditions.
  • Today, petroleum is found in vast underground reservoirs where ancient seas were located. Petroleum reservoirs can be found beneath land or the ocean floor. Their crude oil is extracted with giant drilling machines.
  • Crude oil is usually black or dark brown, but can also be yellowish, reddish, tan, or even greenish. Variations in color indicate the distinct chemical compositions of different supplies of crude oil. Petroleum that has few metals or sulfur tends to be lighter (sometimes nearly clear).
  • Petroleum is used to make gasoline, an important product in our everyday lives. It is also processed and part of thousands of different items, including tires, refrigerators, life jackets, and anesthetics.
  • When petroleum products such as gasoline are burned for energy, they release toxic gases and high amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Carbon helps regulate the Earth’s atmospheric temperature and adding to the natural balance by burning fossil fuels adversely affects our climate.

Crude oil is composed of hydrocarbons, which are mainly hydrogen (about 13% by weight) and carbon (about 85%). Other elements such as nitrogen (about 0.5%), sulfur (0.5%), oxygen (1%), and metals such as iron, nickel, and copper (less than 0.1%) can also be mixed in with the hydrocarbons in small amounts.

  • The way molecules are organized in the hydrocarbon is a result of the original composition of the algae, plants, or plankton from millions of years ago. The amount of heat and pressure the plants were exposed to also contributes to variations that are found in hydrocarbons and crude oil.
  • Due to this variation, crude oil that is pumped from the ground can consist of hundreds of different petroleum compounds. Light oils can contain up to 97% hydrocarbons, while heavier oils and bitumens might contain only 50% hydrocarbons and larger quantities of other elements. It is almost always necessary to refine crude oil in order to make useful products.

Oil is classified according to three main categories: the geographic location where it was drilled, its sulfur content, and its API gravity (a measure of density)

Oil is drilled all over the world. However, there are three primary sources of crude oil that set reference points for ranking and pricing other oil supplies: Brent Crude, West Texas Intermediate, and Dubai and Oman.

Brent Crude is a mixture that comes from 15 different oil fields between Scotland and Norway in the North Sea. These fields supply oil to most of Europe.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is a lighter oil that is produced mostly in the U.S. state of Texas. It is “sweet” and “light”—considered very high quality. WTI supplies much of North America with oil.

Dubai crude, also known as Fateh or Dubai-Oman crude, is a light, sour oil that is produced in Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates. The nearby country of Oman has recently begun producing oil. Dubai and Oman crudes are used as a reference point for pricing Persian Gulf oils that are mostly exported to Asia.

The OPEC Reference Basket is another important oil source. OPEC is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The OPEC Reference Basket is the average price of petroleum from OPEC’s 12 member countries: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Classification: Sulfur Content

  • Sulfur is considered an “impurity” in petroleum. Sulfur in crude oil can corrode metal in the refining process and contribute to air pollution. Petroleum with more than 0.5% sulfur is called “sour,” while petroleum with less than 0.5% sulfur is “sweet.”
  • Sweet oil is usually much more valuable than sour because it does not require as much refining and is less harmful to the environment.

Classification: API Gravity

  • The American Petroleum Institute (API) is a trade association for businesses in the oil and natural gas industries. The API has established accepted systems of standards for a variety of oil- and gas-related products, such as gauges, pumps, and drilling machinery. The API has also established several units of measurement. The “API unit,” for instance, measures gamma radiation in a borehole (a shaft drilled into the ground).
  • API gravity is a measure of the density of petroleum liquid compared to water. If a petroleum liquid’s API gravity is greater than 10, it is “light,” and floats on top of the water. If the API gravity is less than 10, it is “heavy,” and sinks in water.

Light oils are preferred because they have a higher yield of hydrocarbons. Heavier oils have greater concentrations of metals and sulfur and require more refining.

Oil and Gas Industry

The oil and gas sector is among the eight core industries in India and plays a major role in influencing decision making for all the other important sections of the economy.

India’s economic growth is closely related to energy demand; therefore, the need for oil and gas is projected to grow more, thereby making the sector quite conducive for investment.

The Government of India has adopted several policies to fulfill the increasing demand. The government has allowed 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in many segments of the sector, including natural gas, petroleum products, and refineries, among others. Today, it attracts both domestic and foreign investment, as attested by the presence of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Cairn India.

India is expected to be one of the largest contributors to non-OECD petroleum consumption growth globally. Oil imports rose sharply to US$ 87.37 billion in 2017-18 from US$ 70.72 billion in 2016-17. India retained its spot as the third-largest consumer of oil in the world in 2017 with consumption of 4.69 mbpd of oil in 2017, compared to 4.56 mbpd in 2016.

India was the fourth-largest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) importer in 2017 after Japan, South Korea, and China. LNG imports increased to 26.11 bcm in 2017-18 from 24.48 bcm in 2016-17.

Gas pipeline infrastructure in the country stood at nearly 16000 km at the beginning of 2019.

According to data released by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the petroleum and natural gas sector attracted FDI worth US$ 7.018 billion between April 2000 and March 2019.

Following are some of the major investments and developments in the oil and gas sector:

In September 2018, the Government of Gujarat selected Energy Infrastructure Limited (EIL), a subsidiary of the Netherlands-based Energy Infrastructure Butano (Asia) BV, to set up a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) terminal at Okha with an investment of Rs 700 crore (US$ 104.42 million).

Foreign investors will have opportunities to invest in projects worth US$ 300 billion in India, as the country looks to cut reliance on oil imports by 10 percent by 2022, according to Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India.

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is going to invest Rs 17,615 crore (US$ 2.73 billion) in drilling oil and gas wells in 2018-19.

As of March 2019, Brookfield is going to acquire Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure, now known as East-West Pipeline (EWPL) for Rs 13,000 crore (US$ 1.80 billion).

Some of the major initiatives taken by the Government of India to promote the oil and gas sector are:

  • The Government of India is planning to set up around 5,000 compressed biogas (CBG) plants by 2023.
  • The government of India is planning to invest Rs 70,000 crore (US$ 9.97 billion) to expand the gas pipeline network across the country.
  • In September 2018, the Government of India approved fiscal incentives to attract investments and technology to improve recovery from oil fields which is expected to lead to hydrocarbon production worth Rs 50 lakh crore (US$ 745.82 billion) in the next twenty years.
  • State-run oil firms are planning investments worth Rs 723 crore (US$ 111.30 million) in Uttar Pradesh to improve the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) infrastructure in a bid to promote clean energy and generate employment, according to Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India.
  • The Oil Ministry plans to set up bio-CNG (compressed natural gas) plants and allied infrastructure at a cost of Rs 7,000 crore (US$ 1.10 billion) to promote the use of clean fuel.

Road Ahead

  • The energy demand of India is anticipated to grow faster than the energy demand of all major economies, on the back of continued robust economic growth. Consequently, India’s energy demand as a percentage of global energy demand is expected to rise to 11 percent in 2040 from 5.58 percent in 2017.
  • Crude oil consumption is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.60 percent to 500 million tonnes by 2040 from 221.76 million tonnes in 2017.
  • Natural Gas consumption is forecasted to increase at a CAGR of 4.31 percent to 143.08 million tonnes by 2040 from 54.20 million tonnes in 2017

Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve

The Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve (ISPR) is an emergency fuel store of total of 5.33 MMT (million metric tons) or 36.92 MMbbl of strategic crude oil enough to provide 10 days of consumption which are maintained by the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited.

Strategic crude oil storages are at 3 underground locations in Mangalore, Visakhapatnam, and Padur (near Udupi).

All these are located on the east and west coasts of India which are readily accessible to the refineries. These strategic storages are in addition to the existing storages of crude oil and petroleum products with the oil companies and serve in response to external supply disruptions.

Recently, the government approved the construction of two more strategic petroleum reserves in the country. These will come up at Chandikhol in Odisha and Rajasthan and will have an aggregate capacity of 6.5 million tonnes. This will take the strategic reserve capacity to 15.33 million tons.


Pipelines are the most convenient, efficient, and economical mode of transporting liquids like petroleum, petroleum products, natural gas, water, milk, etc. Even solids can also be transported through pipelines after converting them into the slurry.

Pipelines have the following advantages over other means of transport:

  • They are ideally suited to transport liquids and gases.
  • Pipelines can be laid through difficult terrains as well as underwater.
  • It involves very low energy consumption.
  • It needs very little maintenance.
  • Pipelines arc safe, accident-free, and environmentally friendly.

Following are the main disadvantages of pipeline transport:

  • It is not flexible, i.e., it can be used only for a few fixed points.
  • Its capacity cannot be increased once it is laid.
  • It is difficult to make security arrangements for pipelines.
  • Underground pipelines cannot be easily repaired and detection of leakage is also difficult.

Currently there are 6 Major Pipelines in India:

1. Naharkatia-Nunmati-Barauni Pipeline:
  • This was the first pipeline constructed in India to bring crude oil from Naharkatia oilfield to Nunmati.
  • It was later extended to transport crude oil to the refinery at Barauni in Bihar. It is 1,167 km long. It is now extended to Kanpur in U.P. The pipeline between Naharkatia and Nunmati became operative in 1962 and that between Nunmati and Barauni in 1964. Construction work on the pipeline from Barauni to Kanpur and Haldia was completed in 1966. It has a number of pumping stations and subsidiary pipelines.
2. Mumbai High-Mumbai-Ankleshwar-Kayoli Pipeline:

This pipeline connects the oilfields of Mumbai High and Gujarat with the oil refinery at Koyali. A 210 km long double-pipeline connects Mumbai with Mumbai High. It provides facilities for transporting crude oil and natural gas. Ankleshwar-Koyali pipeline was completed in 1965. It transports crude oil from Ankleshwar oilfield to the Koyali refinery.

3. Salaya-Koyali-Mathura Pipeline:

An important pipeline has been laid from Salaya in Gujarat to Mathura in U.P. via Viramgram. This is a 1,256 km long pipeline which supplies crude oil to refineries at Koyali and Mathura. From Mathura, it has been extended to the oil refinery at Panipat in Haryana and further to Jalandhar in Punjab. It has an offshore terminal for imported crude oil.

4. Hajira-Bijapur-Jagdishpur (HBJ) Gas Pipeline:

This pipeline has been constructed by the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) to transport gas. It is 1,750 km long and connects Hazira in Maharashtra to Bijapur in M.P. and Jagdishpur in U.P. It carries 18 million cubic meters of gas every day to three powerhouses at Kawas (Gujarat), Anta (Rajasthan), and Auraiya (U.P.) and to six fertilizer plants at Bijapur, Sawai Madhopur, Jagdishpur, Shahjahanpur, Aonla, and Babrala.

The construction of this pipeline is a unique engineering feat. The pipeline passes through 343.7 km long rocky area, 56.3 km long forest area, besides crossing 29 railway crossings and 75 big and small rivers.

This is the world’s largest underground pipeline and has brought about a big transformation in the economy of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. It has been extended up to Delhi so that enough gas is made available to meet the growing demand of the capital city.

5. Jamnagar-Loni LPG Pipeline:

This 1,269 km long pipeline has been constructed by the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) at the cost of Rs. 1,250 crore. It connects Jamnagar in Gujarat to Loni near Delhi in U.P. and passes through the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and U.P. This is the longest LPG pipeline in the world.

It is like transporting 3.5 lakh LPG gas cylinders across 1,269 km every day and its capacity is being increased to 5.0 lakh cylinder per day. It will result in net saving of Rs. 500 crore per year by eliminating road tanker movement and lead to a reduction of about 10,000 tonnes of pollutant emission per year.

6. Kandla-Bhatinda Pipeline:

This 1,331 km long pipeline is proposed to be constructed for transporting crude oil to the proposed refinery at Bhatinda. It is to be constructed by IOC at the estimated cost of Rs. 690 crore.

Proposed Pipelines:

Apart from the above-mentioned important pipelines, several other pipelines have also been laid in different parts of the country. Construction of some of them has already been completed while others are at different stages of completion.

Important pipelines include the Kalol-Sabarmati Crude Pipeline, the Nawgam-KalolKoyali Crude Pipeline, the Cambay-Dhiwaran Gas Pipeline, the Ankleshwar- Uttaran Gas Pipeline, the Ankleshwar-Vadodara Associated Gas Pipeline, and the Koyali-Ahmedabad Products Pipeline. Mumbai is an important center for petroleum products. As such, it is joined with Pune and Manmad by pipelines. The Haldia-Kolkata pipeline caters to the needs of Kolkata and its neighboring areas.


India has reserves of thorium in sufficient quantity as compared to other parts of world.

The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), a constituent unit of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), has so far established 11.93 million tonnes of in situ resources Monazite (Thorium bearing mineral) in the country, which contains about 1.07 million tonnes of thorium. The state-wise resources of in situ monazites established by AMD as of 2014 are as follows:

StateMonazite (Million tonnes)
Andhra Pradesh3.72
Tamil Nadu2.46
West Bengal1.22

Uranium and Thorium have got distinctive characteristics governing their utilization in nuclear reactors. Unlike uranium, thorium alone cannot be directly used as nuclear fuel in a reactor.

Utilization of Thorium with either uranium or plutonium, without going through the second stage of Fast Breeder Reactors, to build sufficient inventory of plutonium first, will be counter-productive by limiting thorium utilization to a very small fraction of the total available resources in the country.

The utilization of Thorium in the third stage makes it available as a sustainable energy resource for centuries. With this mode of utilization, Thorium offers not only a sustainable energy resource but also excellent fuel performance characteristics in a reactor, better than Uranium with respect to the lower inventory of long-lived nuclear waste.

Gas hydrates

Gas hydrates are a crystalline form of methane and water and exist in shallow sediments of outer continental margins.

They are envisaged as a viable major energy resource for the future. Thus, delineation of gas-hydrates by geophysical methods is very important for evaluating the resource potential along the Indian continental margin with a view to meet the overwhelming demand of energy for India.

Gas hydrates with their abundant resource potential are emerging as a potential fuel resource.

The preliminary assessment of the geological conditions and limited available seismic data suggests a high possibility of the occurrence of a large quantity of gas hydrates within the EEZ of India.

The multichannel seismic data collected by various organizations during the last Plan period has been evaluated and based on the data, two promising sites of 100 km x 100 km in the Krishna‐Godavari (KG) and the Mahanadi basins have been identified and surveyed.

The development of technology to harvest Gas Hydrates can ensure the energy security of the nation. Gas Hydrate exploration, development of tools for the environmentally safe recovery of gas from these gas hydrates is the need of the hour.

Potential locations

  • K.G. and Mahanadi Basins in East Coast,
  • Kerala-Konkan basin on the west coast
  • Andaman offshore.

Renewable Energy Resources

Non-conventional energy resources or Renewable Energy resources are basically those resources that can be used to harness energy in different forms rather than conventional fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

Non-conventional energy resources are ecofriendly and do not have adverse effects on the environment. They are also renewable, i.e. over the years, these sources are renewed. The non-conventional energy resources include solar energy, tidal energy, wind energy, energy from biomass, and geothermal energy.

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