In this article, You will read World Resources and their Distribution – for UPSC.
“Anything that can be used to satisfy a need is a resource“. A resource is a source or supply from which benefit is produced. Resources are vital to the existence of people.
Natural resources are materials people obtain from Earth that have economic value or are important for human life. Lumber, minerals, and even fossil fuels are three resources that serve people well. Resources are distributed throughout the world, though not always evenly, and some people have better access to resources than others.
Different regions have access to different renewable or nonrenewable natural resources such as freshwater, fossil fuels, fertile soil, or timber based on their geographic location and past geologic processes.
Mineral Resources and their Distribution
- Iron ore-producing areas are widely distributed in the world. There are about 60 countries in the world, which produce iron ore.
- China, Brazil, Australia, India, Russia, Ukraine, USA, South Africa, Canada, Sweden, etc., are the main producers of iron ore.
- China is the world’s largest producer of iron-ore followed by Brazil and Australia at the second and third position respectively.
- China – Manchuria, Sinkiang, Si-kiang, Shandog Peninsula
- Europe – Ruhr, South Whales, Krivoy Rog, Bilbao, Lorraine
- Africa – Transvaal, Liberia
- South Africa – Postmasburg area, Transvaal
- Russia, Kazakhstan – Ural region [Magnitogorsk, Novotrotsk, Zlaloust, Nizny Taghil, and Seerow], Tula region [Kursk Magnetic], Angara and Krasnoyarsk.
- North America – Great Lakes [Mesabi Region], Labrador
- South America – Carajas, Itabira, Minas Geriais
- Brazil – Minas Gerais Region (Itabiria hills)
- Australia – Pilbara Region, Koolyanobbing, Iron Duke, Iron Knob
- The main producers of manganese in the world are South Africa, Australia, China, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Brazil, India, Ghana, Ukraine, Georgia, and Mexico.
- China: Kiangsi, Hunan, Kuangsi, Kwangtung, Kuangsi and Kwichou.
- South Africa: Cape Province (Krugersdorp, Postmasburg, Manganore)
- Gabon: Moanda mine
- Brazil: Amapa region
- Australia: Leonara, Victoria, Queensland, and Woodie Woodie.
- India: Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand(Damodar valley), Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.
- In the Earth s crust, the copper content is about 0.01%. Only in a few copper deposits, the copper content is found at up to 3%-5%. Copper in nature often exists in compounds. The world reserves of copper metal are assessed at 720 million tonnes of copper content.
- Chile has the largest share accounting for about 29.2% of world reserves followed by Australia (12.2%), Peru (11.4%), Mexico (6.4%), USA (4.6%), and China & Russia (4.2% each)
- As per world mine production of copper, Chile was the largest single producer of copper in 2014 with 31.28% share followed by China (8.9%), Peru (7.5%), USA (7.4%), and Australia (5.3%).
- The main producers of copper in the world are Chile, Peru, USA, China, Australia, Indonesia, Russia, Canada, Jambia, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Mexico.
- Chile: Mt. Chuquicamata, El Teniente, El Salvador and La-Africana.
- Peru: Cerro de Pasco, Morococha, Casapalca and Toquepala.
- USA: Arizona, Utah(Bingham Canyon Mine), Montana, Nevada and New Mexico (El Chino Mine) states.
- Canada: Ontario(Sudburry district), Manitoba, Quebec and Saskatchewan.
- Zaire: Katanga region
- South Africa: Transvaal, Cape province.
Aluminium (Bauxite Ore)
- The world bauxite reserves are estimated at 28 billion tonnes and are located mainly in Guinea (26%), Australia (22%), Brazil (9%), Vietnam (8%), Jamaica (7%), Indonesia (4%), Guyana & China (3% each).
- The important bauxite producers are (their percentage in world’s production is given in bracket): Australia (31.34%), China (18.41%), Brazil (13.93%), Guinea (8.36%), Jamaica (3.98%), Russia (1.64%), Venezuela (2.39%), Surinam (1.99%), Kazakhstan (2.44%), Greece (1.09%), Guyana (0.60%) and Vietnam (0.01%).
- Australia: Cape York Peninsula(Queensland), New South Wales, and Western Australia
- China: Hunan, Guichou and Sichuan
- Brazil: the central region is the main producing area.
- India: Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat
- Jamaica: St Elizabeth and St Mary region
- USA: Saline county region of Arkansas state
- Erstwhile USSR: Kola peninsula
- Guinea: Boko and Baruka island
- South Africa: North Natal Province
- Until 2006 South Africa was the world’s largest gold producer. In 2007 increasing production from other countries and declining production from South Africa meant that China became the largest producer, although no country has approached the scale of South Africa’s period of peak production during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
- Countries with significant deposits: South Africa, Australia, Indonesia, Canada, Ghana, Chile, China, USA, Russia, etc.
- South Africa: Johannesburg, Boksburg and Orange free state, Kimberley
- USA: Salt lake region and Alaska.
- Australia: Mount Morgan, Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie. (Newcrest’s Cadia Valley mine in New South Wales, Boddington Gold Mine, Fosterville Gold Mine)
- Russia: Polyus Gold’s Olimpiada gold mine in the Krasnoyarsk region of Eastern Siberia, Blagodatnoye gold mine, Kupol gold mine in the Chukotka region of Far East Russia, Natalka gold mine(northern Pacific coast in the Magadan Region), Verninskoye gold mine, Sukhoi Log gold mine.
- The chief ore minerals of silver are agentite, stephanite, pyrargyrite, and proustite.
- It is found mixed with several other metals such as copper, lead, gold, zinc, etc.
- Used in chemicals, electroplating, photography and for colouring glass, etc.
- 80 % of all silver produced in the world comes as a by-product of Industrial processes and so silver mining is concentrated in only a handful of countries.
- Mexico is the world leader in terms of silver production.
- Major silver producing countries are Mexico, Peru, China, Russia, Chile, Canada, USA, Australia, Bolivia, and South Africa.
- Mexico: Chihuahua, Hildago
- Canada: Ontaria, British Colombia, Quebec
- USA: Utah, Montana, Arizona, Colorado
- Australia: Mt No, Kalgoorlie, Broken bill
- Bolivia: Potosi
- South Africa: Transvaal, and Natal Province
- The tin-producing areas of the world are limited in certain pockets and very unevenly distributed around the world.
- Nearly 75 percent of the total output comes from China and Malaysia.
- Malaysia: Selangor, Penang Island, Kinta valley, Kelang valley, Jelebu valley
- Indonesia: northern coast of Sumatra including Bangka, Billiton, and Singkil and there are also marine deposits in the Strait of Malacca.
- China: Yunnan, Nanking mountains, Kiangsi and Hunan.
- Peru: San Antonio de Palo is the main tin-producing area in Peru.
- Bolivia: high plateau of Bolivia is the main tin-producing area
- Brazil: Boreborema plateau
- Myanmar: Shan plateau, Kayinni plateau
- Major lead producing countries are China, Australia, Peru, United States, and Russia.
- Australia: Broken bill, Mt. Isa(Queensland)
- Canada: Sudbury
- Peru: Cerro-de-Pasco
- Since lead and zinc so often occur together, the major zinc producers are much the same as for lead.
- The main producers of zinc in the world are China, Peru, Australia, USA, Canada, India, Kazakhstan, Ireland, and Mexico.
- China: Yunan Province
- Peru: Cerro de Pasco, Huaras and Ayacacho
- Australia: Broken Hill in western New South Wales, Reed Elsevier, Western Queensland and Captains Flat
- USA: Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Jersey, Tennesee, Virginia, Illinois and New York
- Canada: British Columbia is the largest mining area not only in Canada but also in the world. Kimberley in British Columbia, Flin-Flon in Manitoba, and Saskatchewan are the main areas of zinc mining.
- India: Rajasthan state is the leading producer of zinc.
- The leading producers of natural diamonds are Russia, Botswana, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Russia, and Zaire [Congo].
- Other important producers include Namibia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Brazil, etc.
- The US is the largest producer of synthetic industrial diamonds
- Russia holds what is believed to be the world’s largest and richest diamond resource.
- Botswana is the leading diamond-producing country in terms of value, and the second largest in terms of volume. The two important ones are Orapa and Jwaneng, two of the most prolific diamond mines in the world.
- Botswana’s resources produce the full range of diamonds, in all sizes, colors, and clarities.
- Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is also one of Africa’s largest diamond producers.
- Australia is the leading producer of color diamonds. Australia is famous for its pink, purple and red diamonds.
- South Africa has the most diverse range of diamond deposits in the world. Deposits include open pit and underground kimberlite pipe/dyke/fissure mining.
- South Africa: Kimberley, Johannesburg, Cape town
- Zaire: Catanga plateau
- India: Parma and Golkonda mines
- Angola: Catoca
- Russia: Kola Peninsula, Southern Urals
- Canada: Sudbury
- China: Nanking, Hunan, and Jiangxi
- China: Hunan and Guangxi-Zhuang
- South Africa: Transvaal
- India: Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan
- Brazil: Atlantic coast, Sao Paulo
Energy Resources and their Distribution
- Coal is also the cheapest source of power if used near the coal mines. Since it is bulky, its transportation to far-off places involves high costs. For this reason, the industries which consume a large quantity of coal, are located near coal mines.
- Coal is used as a source of power for running machines, trains, ships, etc. Coal is also essential for the manufacture of iron and steel and a variety of chemicals. Coal-tar and chemicals such as ammonia, benzol, etc. are obtained as by-products in the manufacture of iron and steel when coal is burnt to get the coke.
- The coal deposits although exist in nearly every part of the world, but commercially exploitable coal reserves are found mainly in China, USA, India, Australia, Indonesia, Russia, Canada, South Africa, Columbia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.
- China: Northern Shansi, Shensi, and Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Henan, and Shandong.
- USA: Appalachian, Montana, Wyoming, Illinois, Indiana, western Kentucky, West Virginia, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, and Texas.
- Russia: Donetskii in Moscow, Pechora basins in western Russia, and the Kuznetski, Kansk-Achinsk, Irkutsk, and South Yakutsk basins in Eastern Russia, Kansk-Achinsk Basin, and the Raspadskaya mine in the Kemerovo region.
- Australia: New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria.
- Canada: Nanaimo, Bowser, Skeena, Moose River, Maritime, and Bowron River.
- Germany: Ruhr Coal Basin in the North Rhine-Westphalia state, Saar Basin in south-west Germany, Rhineland region, and Garzweiler.
- Ukraine: Donets Basin in Eastern Ukraine.
- South Africa: Transvaal, Cape of Good Hope and Natal.
- Kazakhastan: Kuznetsk, Karaganda, Ekibastuz, Turgay, Nizhne-Iliyskiy and Maikuben basin.
- Colombia: Colombia has the biggest coal reserves in South America. Major coal reserves are in the Guajira peninsula. Correjon is the biggest coal mine in Colombia, followed by the La Loma coal mine.
- The Arabian-Iranian sedimentary basin in the Persian Gulf region contains two-thirds of these supergiant fields.
- The remaining supergiants are distributed in the United States, Russia, Mexico, Libya, Algeria, Venezuela, etc.
- Middle East
- The countries in the Middle East region- Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Syria constitute the richest oil region on the earth.
- Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia has the second-largest proven oil reserves (Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves).
- Al-Ghawār oil field, Saffaniyah offshore field in the Persian Gulf.
- Al-Burqan oilfield of Kuwait.
- South America
- Venezuela (Orinoco belt, Lake Maracaibo region) is the leading producer of oil in South America. Other countries with economical oil reserves in South America are Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile.
- North America
- Oil reserves are found widespread in the USA. The states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, California, Louisiana, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania are major regions with proven oil reserves.
- Tampico and Tuxpum — the two oil fields — started production as early as in 1901.
- Among the newly discovered oil fields are Tehuantepec in the south and Campeche sound in the Gulf of Mexico.
- The oil reserves are mainly found in North Africa. It is included in the part of the Middle East comprising the countries- Libya, Algeria, Egypt. Apart from this, African countries- Sudan, Nigeria, Angola have substantial oil reserves.
- Caucasian region
- The countries of the Caucasian region- Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan have prominent oil reserves. The first oil well dug in the region was Mykope in the northern Caucasus in the year 1863. In subsequent years, oil was also found at Baku. Later, another oilfield was discovered at Grozny.
- Volga basin lying west of the Ural range has been a leading producer of crude oil in Russia. Huge oil reserves have also been found in the north of the Caspian Sea, Kamchatka peninsula and Sakhalin Islands. Other prominent areas of Russia where oil reserves have been found are Ob basin of western Siberia and Tainan.
- Major oil reserves in Europe are found in the North Sea, which is shared by the countries of the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands.
- Indonesia has oilfields in central Sumatra, Java and Kalimantan. Myanmar has proven oilfields in Irrawaddy and Chindwin valleys. Vietnam and the Philippines have also offshore oil reserves in the South China Sea region. Japan has oilfields located in Hokkaido and Honshu islands. China has oil fields in the Chang Valley and Shaxi province.
- Middle East
- Russia is the world’s largest producer of natural gas and produces 21.30 percent of the world’s total natural gas production.
- The country is developing the Saratov deposits of natural gas, which is carried to Moscow by an 835 km long pipeline. Dashava Kiev line supplies gas to the capital of Ukraine.
- Great deposits of natural gas have been discovered in Stavropol territory.
- A gasline stretching for 1.280 kilometers has been laid between Stavropol to Moscow. It is the longest gasline in Russia.
- Other natural gas-producing regions of Russia are Estomia, Volga basin, Sakhalin Island, Pechora valley, etc.
- The United States of America is the second-largest natural gas producer.
- Appalachian Basin, McAlester Basin, Anadarko Basin, Denver Julesburg, San Juan Basin, California Area, Permian Basin, Gulf Embayment, Williston Basin, Pincher Creek
- Alberta and British Columbia States.
- West Asian Region:
- In West Asia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Qatar, and Iraq are the main natural gas producers.
- Iran and Qatar have the second and third largest natural gas reserves in the world, behind Russia.
- Eastern and Southern Asian Countries:
- China has emerged as a major natural gas-producing country.
- Indonesia is another leading gas-producing country.
- Bangladesh is another leading gas-producing country. Here, huge natural gas reserves have been found in the eastern hilly region.
- India also possesses natural gas which is mostly concentrated in Bombay High, Godawari basin, Barmer area of Rajasthan, etc.
- Pakistan is also a surplus gas-producing country.
- In Europe Norway, United Kingdom, Italy, France, and Netherlands are the important natural gas-producing countries.
- Algeria is the leading natural gas producer.
- Egypt, Nigeria, Gabon, South Africa and Tunisia are other natural gas-producing countries of Africa.
- Largest viable deposits are found in Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada.
- Olympic Dam and the Ranger mine in Southern Australia are important mines in Australia.
- High-grade deposits are only found in the Athabasca Basin region of Canada.
- Cigar Lake, McArthur River basin in Canada are other important uranium mining sites.
- The Chu-Sarysu basin in central Kazakhstan alone accounts for over half of the country’s known uranium resources.
- As per 2016 data, Kazakhstan is the largest producer of uranium with 39% of world supply, followed by Canada (22%) and Australia (10%).
- Monazite is the chief source of thorium in the world.
- United States, Australia, and India have particularly large reserves of thorium.
- Commercially viable deposits of Monazite can be found mainly in the beach sands in the coastal tracts of India, Brazil, Australia, Ceylon, and Malaysia.
- India and Australia are believed to possess more than half of the world’s thorium reserves.
- Canada is the highest producer of hydro-power.
- The major generating areas are the Great Lake Region, Niagara Falls, British Columbia region.
- Some of the noted hydroelectric projects in Canada are Marie Rapid Project in Great Lake, Kitimal project in British Columbia, and Prescott, Kingston in St. Lawrence Valley.
- The U.S.A. is the second-largest producer of hydro-power.
- Appalachian Region – Tennessee Valley Project is an integrated large project producing huge amount of hydro-power.
- North-West Region – Mountainous, rugged terrain and huge water volume of Columbia and Snake rivers provided ideal condition for hydro-power generation.
- South-West Region – Colorado River provided excellent favourable conditions for water power development.
- Niagara – It is the largest hydropower project in the world, jointly developed by U.S.A. and Canada. The Niagara River flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario and the Niagara Falls and the hydro-electric project forms part of the boundary between the U.S.A. and Canada.
- The percentage contribution of hydro-power to total electricity production in few countries are Norway, Switzerland, Sweden.
- The other notable producing countries are France, Germany and Italy.
- Africa has immense potential in hydro-power generation. Due to an underdeveloped economy and lack of technology and industrialization, much of it is yet to be tapped.
- Some of the important hydel power projects are Kariba Dam on Zambesi, Owen project in Uganda, Aswan Dam in Egypt, Sennar Dam in Sudan, Kafui Dam in Zambia etc.
- Australia is a leading hydro-power generating country. Most of its hydel projects are located in New South Wales and Victoria.
- China, India, Japan, Indonesia, N. and S. Korea.
- Three Gorges Hydro-electric Project on Chang Jiang (Yangtze) river
- Most of the hydro-power projects in China are located on the Yangtze Kiang, Sikiang and Hwang Ho rivers.
- Few important projects are San-men, Liu-chia etc.
- As far as the potential of hydro-power is concerned, North-Eastern states secure the first position, followed by Gangetic and Indus valley, South Indian Rivers and Central Indian Rivers.
- Damodar Valley Project — Bihar & W. Bengal
- Bhakra-Nangal Project — Punjab.
- Hirakud Project — Orissa
- Chambal Project — M.P.
- Ukai Project — Gujarat
- Ramganga Project — U.P.
- Parambikulam — Aliyar — Tamil Nadu.
- Tunga-Bhadra Project — Karnataka & A.P.
- Nagarjuna Sagar Project — Telangana & Andhra Pradesh
- Mettur Project — Tamil Nadu
- Idukki Project — Kerala
- Bhibpuri and Khopli Project — Maharashtra.