Post Independence Development In Mining IndustrySixty two years of independent existence is a noteworthy milestone for any country. That too, for a developing nation like ours, every year is important. The position as it was in 1947 was entirely different from what we see today. Our motherland has seen vast changes in all fields as compared to those days of utter poverty. The sole reason for this change is the hard work of all Indians and a dynamic and determined leadership of India.
Our country has seen spectacular progress through white revolution, green revolution, computer revolution, education, medicine, space, atomic, power and industrial revolution through -copious supply of raw materials i.e., the minerals. Thus, there is a tremendous development in the field of mining which is the backbone of industry in India or for that matter anywhere in the world. The prime contributory factors for the progress of any nation are the fields of agriculture, forestry and mining. Of these three factors, the first two are an on going process and the third is a finite process. Once we consume and exhaust the mines, it is not possible to recycle them over a long range of geological time .It requires millions of years to recreate the mineral deposits in nature. That is why we have to use them discreetly keeping in mind our long range requirements.
At one point of time, we had to export our valuable natural resources to earn valuable foreign exchange to support the growth of other fields. That way, we have depleted our resources of iron, manganese, barites, chlromite etc. for countries like Japan, Iran, America, etc. Fortunately, today India enjoys a comfortable position in exchange reserves due mainly to public-private joint ventures, FDI, globalisation, incentives given to industrialists, etc. A matching and a fitting progress has been achieved in mining which is comparable with that in any other field. But, a lot more remains to be achieved. Ours is a vast terrain. Its geological composition is a special and a typical one. Rocks as old as 3500 million year as well as 2000 years old are found in our land. Associated with these rock formations, we have a good amount of mineral deposits of iron, manganese, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, chromite, limestone, dolomite, phosphorite, barites, clay, coal, bauxite, diamond and other gems and minerals especially the minerals required for the industry, transport and construction purposes are in abundance. The demand for these minerals is increasing over the years and coupled with the export / import compulsions and our future needs in the coming decades will have to be borne in mind while chalking out any plans for any purpose. The historical development of mining in our country can be classified into three stages namely 1) The pre- British period, 2) The period of British rule and 3) The post British period. To state in brief about the first period, we can say that the first stage of systematic search was done during the Copper Age and the Iron Age as primitive man crossed over from the Stone Age. Also what was very dear to our early kings like gold, diamond, silver and other gems were known to them albeit their mining. About 2500 years old mining evidenced by zinc smelters around Zawar, Udaipur districts, Rajasthan are so widespread that one can infer that, probably, zinc was exported to all parts of the world from there. There were 18 names for gold in Vedic periods. Besides jewelry it was used for coinage and Ayurvedic medicines. Chanakya, in his Arthashasthra, has specifically mentioned that minerals are the resources of treasury. There is evidence to say that the Harappa and Mohenjodaro people had developed our Kolar and Hutti gold mines at least up to the ground water table. Besides, wherever we have identified the gold, copper, silver, lead, zinc mineral deposits in present times, one can see evidence of ancient mining and smelting nearby. In many cases, based on these clues, the British did some more research and developed some of the best gold and diamond mines. At one point of time India was supplying diamonds to all parts of the world. Later on, the Mughals gave preference to diamond mining over other minerals and developed Panna in Madhya Pradesh, Hirakud in Orissa, Kolluru, Nandigama, Wajrakarur, Banaganapalli and Golconda areas in Andhra Pradesh. Probably tipped by the discovery of huge gold and diamond deposits in Johannesburg and Kimberly in South Africa and by the similarity of geological terrains between South Africa and India, the British gave priority to geological investigations. They were able to transport abundant wealth in terms of gold and diamond from India to London. They transported nearly 1000 tonnes of gold and some of the world’s best large size diamonds from India such as the Kohinoor, Peat, Regent, The Great Mughal, Tiffany’s etc. and also famous sapphires, emeralds, rubies etc. What we gained in return for losing such great wealth is that they gave us the strong foundation for building a strong edifice of a free nation. We inherited the modern railway system, modern education system, medical system, science and technology, the parliamentary system, police and military system, Judiciary, industrial growth etc. It may not be an exaggeration to say that all our further growth was based on the initial firm foundations laid down by them. Likewise modern mining is also developed on the systematic lines shown by the British.
In the first phase of ancient mining, there was no systematic planned mining and it was done erratically. Contrary to this, during the British period, modern planning based on scientific concepts and based on aspects of safety played an important role. This second phase can be further divided into three stages: 1) The setting up of East India Company in 1780 to the formation of Coal Committee in 1836, 2) 1836 to 1851 when GSI was started and 3) 1851 to 1947 representing the growth of GSI vis-a-vis the growth of mining in India.
Firstly, from 1830 to 1845, a Geologist by the name of McCleland, Secretary of the Coal Committee, collected all the information. Another geologist named David Hira Williams surveyed all the coal fields. Secondly, in 1851, T. Oldham started functioning at Kolkata heralding the founding of GSI for geological investigations in India. GSI developed, in the course of time into the largest scientific survey in India. It is the third oldest in the world. The investigation done to locate new coal deposits for the newly laid railway line from Kolkatta to Kharagpur, marked the beginning of mineral investigations in our country. Later, iron, limestone, chromite, copper etc were discovered. Thirdly, a Bureau of Mines Inspection was opened in 1900 in GSI and later in 1904 it was shifted to Dhanbad and presently it is called the Director General of Mines Safety. Setting aside the detailed growth during these three stages for some other occasion, let us concentrate on the post independence development. India’s freedom brought about significant changes in the mineral policies of our country. Based on the Mineral Policy Conference in 1947, the Government of India adopted some positive and firm decisions for the development of mines. Later, the Industrial policy decisions of 1948 were supportive to the mineral policy. These were revised again in 1956. The main thrust of these policies was self dependence of the mineral sector. Thirteen major minerals were kept under the control of the government. ONGC was founded in 1947 under the chairmanship of A. M. N. Ghosh for the exploration of petroleum. The Atomic Minerals Division was started in 1949 under D. N. Wadia for research in atomic minerals. GSI has played an important role in mineral search and exploration. To supplement this work, 97% of the total area of the country has been covered by the primary systematic geological mapping on 1 : 50000 scale and the maps are available for sale. These maps are the basis for any type of mineral investigations or mine planning etc. India is one among the 15 mineral producing countries in the world. It plays an important role in the mineral import / export trade.
During the first and second plan periods, power, steel and agriculture sectors were given priority and to supplement them more and more deposits of coal, limestone, iron ore, manganese, copper, lead, zinc and chromite were discovered. In the third plan period, due to intense search for bauxite, new deposits at Amarkantak (M.P) and Phutkapahad (Maharashtra) were discovered. To make use of these ores BALCO came into existence. A unique deposit in the world came to light at Jhamarkhotra (Rajasthan) to augment the phosphorite which is an important input in agricultural output. Later, new phosphorite deposits were discovered at Jhabhua (M.P) and Mussorie (U.P). During the fourth plan period, several large copper, lead, zinc deposits came to light at Singhbhum (Jharkand), Khetri (Rajasthan) and Malanjkhand (M.P). In Singhbhum sector Turamdi, Ramachandra pahad, Nandup and Dhadkidi copper deposits were exploited. Rajpura lead zinc deposits in Rajasthan became large sources. Nickel and cobalt were discovered in the laterites of Orissa. In this period, aero - geophysical surveys by GSI were started by a special Twin Otter aircraft. Hindusthan Copper Ltd. and Hindusthan Zinc Ltd. for Copper and zinc mining came into existence. During the fifth plan period, large scale east coast bauxite deposits were discovered in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Thus, India became one of the very few aluminium processing countries in the world. Between 1974 and 1976, within a period of just 18 months, the exploration work was completed in record time in the formidable forest areas of the Eastern ghats. NALCO came into existence for its exploitation and today we are self sufficient in aluminium. In addition to this, huge quantities of manganese came to light in M.P., Maharashtra and Orissa. It is being exported to several countries. Chromite deposits were discovered in Sukinda (Orissa). Tin was discovered in M.P and Orissa border areas. Several refractory mineral deposits were also discovered which are useful in steel making. New copper, lead, zinc, manganese, chromium, tin, tungsten and fertilizer minerals were discovered in the sixth plan period. A very big potash deposit was discovered by drilling under the Thar Desert in Rajasthan. Several small and medium size gold deposits at Chigargunta in South KGF area in Karnataka and A. P came to light. A large tungsten deposit was discovered in Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. During the seventh plan period, intense search was made for rare metals, gold, platinum and diamond deposits. Ghagra and Khayar lead zinc deposits in Rajasthan, gold deposits at Kempinakote, Hutti, Wandalli, Uti (Hutti area), Champion mine (east), Mysore mine block (Gadag area) and Agucha zinc deposit in Rajasthan were also discovered. MECL discovered Banwas- Singhana copper deposit in the Khetri area of Rajasthan. During the eighth plan period, efforts were initiated to locate rare metals and high value metals necessary for modern technology such as molybdenum, platinum, diamonds, phosphate, gold, tin and tungsten. As there was an increasing demand for dimensional stones (varieties of granite), search for new varieties was carried out allover India.
Ajjanahalli, Chinmulgund, GR Halli, Hira Budini, Dona (A.P), Bhukia (Rajasthan) gold deposits were discovered. New kimberlite clan rocks were discovered in M.P., A.P. and Karnataka.
New caesium deposits were discovered in Purulia district of West Bengal during the tenth plan period, Guruharpahad gold deposits in U.P and new kimberlite clan rocks were discovered in M.P. and Karnataka.
The mining sector has employed 1.1 million people. The total production of the mineral sector in 2008-09 was 1137 billion rupees which shows an increase of about 12.67 % over that of the previous year. The total value of mineral production amounts to 2.8% of the GDP. During 2008-09, provisional value for fuel minerals would account for Rs.73,063.37 crore or 64.22%, metallic minerals Rs. 30230.02 crore or 26.57% of the total value. Total provisional value of mineral production including minor minerals but excluding atomic minerals during the year 2007-08 and 2008-09 was about Rs.97,820.05 crores and Rs.1,17,361.10 crores respectively. The value of minerals and ores exported during the year 2006-07 was Rs.80,931 crores whereas the value of import was Rs. 3,05,028 crores. The provisional value of minerals and ores exported during the year 2007 -08 was Rs. 95,022 crores whereas the value of import was Rs.3,49,507 crores. .
This contribution has come from 2326 private and 292 public sector mines. Altogether 90 minerals are produced in India which includes 4 fuel minerals, 10 metallic minerals, 50 non metallic minerals, 3 atomic minerals and 23 minor minerals. Nearly 80% of the mineral output accounts for coal production and the rest account for other minerals. According to an estimate, by 2015, the internal demand for minerals is likely to double and accordingly necessary steps have to be taken now itself. There is a possibility to double the contribution to the GDP to 6%. In 1947 it was just 58 crores of rupees and today it is Rs.1, 13,760.75/- crores (2008 -09) which is nearly 1300 times increase in production. The main reasons for this spectacular achievement is the availability of natural resources and their identification at the outset, availability of educated man power and skilled labour force and growth of the private sector. Thus, the projection of 2015, can be achieved if the government further encourages the mining sector. As far as the scenario in the NER is concerned, it can confidently be said that the potential for mining is tremendous as this terrain is richly endowed with various essential and valuable mineral commodities. The oil and natural gas resources are already well known. There are 909 million tones of precious coal available in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland, which are suitable for power generation, for caking purpose and limited export to neighbouring countries keeping internal requirement for at least hundred years in mind. There is scope for coal mining in Namchick-Namphuk area, Arunachal Pradesh, besides the already known workings. There is a huge reserve of 8793 million tones of limestone in Meghalaya, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur. It is suitable for cement, SMS, chemical, Paper industry and lime burning. There is scope for setting up a mini cement factory at Lanka, Nagaon based on limestone deposits at New Umrangshu, N. C. Hills. Also, an export oriented cement plant at Dawki / Shell East Khasi Hills district, based on limestone deposits at Mawmluh- Mawsmai etc, can be set up. Based on the limestone resources available at Litang valley, Jaintia Hills, a cement plant can be started at Sutnga, Jaintia Hills. A paper grade lime plant at Lumshnong Jaintia Hills can be set up. A calcium carbide plant can be set up at Ichmati / Shella East Khasi Hills district, based on limestone deposits nearby. In Nagaland, already a cement factory is working at Warcho and its production can be enhanced by expanding the Satulja limestone quarry. New cement factories can be started based on the limestone resources nearby at Langpotrop, Tuensang district and also a hydrated plant for calcium carbide, hydrated lime and bleaching powder at Dimapur can also be started. At the same place, a lime burnt clay puzzolona plant can be established. There are 246.75 million tones of dolomite reserves in Arunachal Pradesh which is suitable for setting up ferrosilicon and refractory industry at Kalaktang, West Kameng district. Graphite is available in Arunachal Pradesh to the extent of 84.7 million tonnes which can be utilised for earthern and white wares, paints etc. A ceramic industry can come up at Bokajan, Karbi Anglong district and Golaghat area by utilizing the clay deposits at upper Deopani. Based on kaolin deposits of Mulieh, a ceramic plant can be started at Mulieh, Jaintia Hills. The fine clay reserves of 0.71 million tones in Assam is also useful for manufacturing fire bricks and pottery. Similar industry can also come up in Tripura. Similarly good quality silica sand deposits in Assam and Tripura can be used for glass industry especially at Nagaon which is close to Jiyajuri glass sand deposits. Dimensional stones of various colours and textures suitable for decorative stone purpose such as tiles, slabs, cladding stones etc. are found in large quantities in Bura Parabhat, Mahamaya Parbat, Hathigaon etc in Assam and at Halidayganj and Sonapahar in Meghalaya. Based on these occurrences a granite polishing industry can come up at Bura Mayang, Kamrup District Assam and also in Manipur and Mizoram. A marble processing plant at Satuja, Phek district, Nagaland can come up.
Mother earth has provided the natural resources for the benefit of mankind. A judicious use of these resources for the welfare of the people is the best route towards progress and development which are possible only through industrialisation. As the minerals are the fundamental raw materials required for any type of industry, a steady flow of the minerals has to be maintained from decade to decade and from century to century. As known mineral deposits get exhausted new ones have to be discovered and pressed into operation to keep up the wheels of progress rolling. As mineral deposits are not uniformly localized in all the states and in all the countries due to various intrinsic geological parameters and processes over several millions of years, it becomes imperative to move the minerals from one area to another from surplus to deficit areas. Encouragement and investment in mining industry will have several spin off benefits leading to peripheral industries, jobs for the local people and adding to the GDP. Changes in land use pattern and land degradation are no doubt manageable and nature has got its own way of attaining environmental balance.