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Assessment Of Mineral Resources
In the last four years, the Government have laid the foundation for mineral development by (i) the announcement of a mineral policy, (li) the expansion of the Geological Survey of India for implementing a programme of mineral exploration and development, and (m) the establishment of a Bureau of Mines for securing coordinated development with due regard to conservation of the country's mineral assets.
2. It should be made clear at the outset that though progress has been made in the survey of mineralised areas in recent years and the principal mineral regions have been ascertained, exploration of mineral resources has not been thorough or complete in most cases and present estimates are rough guesses. The Plan, therefore, provides for systematic detailed investigation and surveys by the Geological Survey of India, the Bureau of Mines and the National Laboratories for the quantitative and qualitative assessment of the country's reserves of important minerals.
3. The mineral wealth of India as at present known-, though by no means inexhaustible, comprises an adequate range of useful products that are necessary for the industrial development İf the country. An appraisal of the reserves shows that while in respect of minerals essential for basic industriescoal and ironthe reserves are ample, the country is deficient in a fairly long list of vital minerals like ores of copper, tin, lead, zinc, nickel, cobalt and in sulphur and most important of all, petroleum. The position with regard to aluminium ore, refractories, abrasives, limestone etc., may be considered as fairly adequate while in respect of titanium and thorium ores and of mica, the country has considerable reserves.
4. Until recently, mineral exploration and their utilisation in the country received little attention. Except for coal, iron ore and petroleum required for internal use, the majority of minerals were raised in India for purposes of bulk export without any dressing, processing and fabrication. These exports brought but a small return to the country. Nearly a 100 minerals are known to be produced or worked in India of which nearly 30 may be considered more important including several which although comparatively unimportant in quantity today, are capable of material development in future with the expansion of industries.
5. An idea of India's mineral resources, their adequacy, deficiency and present production is given below :
Minerals which are adequate for India's requirements
DEVELOPMENT OF MINERAL RESOURCES
It will be seen from the-above that coal, iron ore, manganese ore, mica, ilmenite and kyanite are produced in quantities of real importance to industry and other sectors of economy. Of these, mica, manganese ore, kyanite and ilmenite are wholly or largely exported.
The table below shows the position in respect of certain minerals in which India has fairly adequate supplies, though not in all cases sufficient to meet the requirements.
In respect of the following key minerals and metals, India has to depend either wholly or in a large measure on foreign sources of supply because of poor resources:
* Production figures are incomplete.
6. The estimated requirements of important minerals by industries by 1955-56, are indicated below :
Mineral Raw materials required annually by industries
Excepting the requirements of sulphur, petroleum and copper and other non-ferrous metals, India has the basic mineral and power resources needed for the industrial expansion envisaged.
7. The power resources in India comprise coal, oil and hydro electricity.. India's coal mining is centred mainly in Bihar and West Bengal. The total workable reserves of coal down to a depth of 1,000 ft. are estimated at 20,000 million tons, of which the good quality coal would amount to 5,000 million tons. The reserves of coking coal, however, are small amounting to only 2,000 million tons.
Very little petroleum is produced in India. Digboi, the only source at present yields about 60 million gallons annually which is about 7% of India's requirements. Indications of productive oil fields are also present in Tripura State, Patharia R.F. (Assam) and in the Kangra district (Punjab).
As against relatively meagre resources of coal and oil, the hydro-electric resources of India are considerable, estimates varying from about 30 million horse-power to 40 million.
(a) When the expansion scheme of the existing steel manufacturers is complete, the demand for iron ore is expected to go upto 4-4 million tons which is expected to rise further to 5-5 million tons when the proposed Government Steel Factory of 600,000 tons capacity materialises.
(b) When the expansion programme of Indian Aluminium Co. is implemented, the demand for bauxite is expected to increase to 100,000 to 110,000 tons per annum.
(c) When the second refinery comes into full production and with the implementation of the third refinery, the demand for petroleum crude would rise to 4-2'million tons per annum.
8. India possesses large quantities of high grade iron ore and may be classed as one of the countries which can reasonably expect a long continued development of heavy industry though, in proportion to the population, these reserves are lower than in the main ore regions of the world. Likewise there are large reserves of bauxite. India is also the world's main source of supply of mica,'ilmenite and monazite.
9. It should be stated again that in most cases the reserves, though known to be large enough, are not known in sufficient detail, especially in regard to quality, for purposes of development. Moreover, the distribution is capricious in a territorial sense, some parts of the country being poor, others being comparatively rich.
10. Amongst natural resources, minerals form a special category as they are " wasting assets " ; once they are taken out of the ground and utilised, they are lost for ever. They should, therefore, be treated on a different footing from replenishable natural resources. Minerals figure in the export trade of India and contribute to the earning of foreign exchange. They are exported, however, largely in the raw state.
1. As minerals form the basis of modern industry in peace and in war, it is necessary to have a rational policy as regards their working and utilisation. The keynote of this policy should be conservation and economic working. The essentials of such a policy of "coordinated, orderly and economic development" of the mineral resources are indicated in the following paragraphs.
(2) Exploration and developmentIn regard to almost every mineral, there are no reliable data of reserves. To ensure the efficient working of the known mineral deposits or those which may be found in future, it is necessary that all steps should be taken to ensure that the extent and value of the resources are determined so that the production programme may be organised on an economic basis and proper provision made in planning schemes for working. Concrete proposals for this purpose are made at the end of the chapter.
(3) Proper conduct of mining operationsThough a mining industry has been in existence in this country for about half a century, only a comparatively small number of mines are being worked in an efficient manner under proper technical guidance. Many units are too small in site or too poorly financed for such working. Lack of a conservation policy is also responsible for the present condition of the industry. There is large wastage, especially in minerals of marginal grades, as these are either abandoned in the mines or thrown away on the mine dumps. Ways and means must be devised for the mining and recovery of these low grade materials. Ores which it is not possible to work economically under normal conditions should be left in the mines so that they may be extracted at a later date without serious loss. The mine dumps all over the country have to be carefully examined and sampled" so that their valuable mineral content may be recovered by methods of beneficiation now available. It should be a rule that selective mining of high grade ' minerals alone should not be undertaken and that all grades should be worked and, wherever possible, blended to produce marketable grades.
To bring about a general improvement in methods of mining as well as in the recovery of economically workable resources, mining interests will have to employ properly qualified technical personnel for conducting mining operations. The Indian Bureau of Mines should assist in this direction through its inspectorate whose function will be to inspect every mining operation and advise the owner on proper methods of development and also to ensure that the advice given is implemented. The Indian Bureau of Mines should also be responsible for the collection of detailed information on the nature of mining operations carried on, the mechanical equipment in use, and of development programmes proposed by each unit.
(iv) Strategic considerationsThe last war showed that valuable time and effort were wasted in conducting emergency exploratory work to develop resources of strategic minerals uneconomic to work in peace time and about the occurrences of which little information was available. The war also showed how difficult it was for the Government to resist pressure 10 investigate every potential source of supply, however, small. It is therefore necessary that particular attention should be paid to strategic minerals such as sulphur, ores of tungsten, tin, vanadium, eic. and the necessary preliminary information should be obtained so that production can be organised when required with the minimum of delay.
[v) Leasing of mineral properties and regulation of mineral developmentThe Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Acr, 1948 (Act LIII of 1948) gives powers of regulation to the Central Government. Under this Act, the Central Government's concurrence is necessary for the issue of licences and leases for atomic energy minerals and rare minerals such as those containing uranium, thorium, vanadium, beryllium, titanium, wolfram, columbium, etc., coal, gypsum, lead, zinc and copper ores. Two changes appear to be desirable in these rules in the national interests. In the first place, the Central Government's concurrence should be needed for issue of licences and leases of other important minerals, viz., iron ore, manganese ore, chromite, bauxite, and mica as these are important in the country's economy. Secondly, in the grant of mineral leases regard should be had to the size of mining properties in order to prevent the holding of very large areas by single interests and, also on the orher hand, to ensure that the areas covered are not too small. The Central Government should lay down rules regarding economic units for different classes of minerals with due advertence to local conditions.
Statistics a/mineral industryAt present monthly, quarterly or annual
returns of mineral production and export arc available, but no data on
the economics of the mining industry. There is provision under Aci: LIII
of 1948 for the collection of detailed statistics in regard roğthe mining
industry. The Bureau of Mines should be empowered to collect statistics
relating to rhe present status and requirements of the mining industry,
so that they can be studied in relation to development and planning. Statistics
in regard to the mineral markets in India and abroad and the trends in
international mineral trade should also be collected.
(viii) Low grade oresMore preliminary information than is now available is necessary in regard to low grade ores which are not at present economic. A comprehensive assessment of all data available from the commercial standpoint, and further exploration and research into problems of mineral dressing and processing are needed so that new development can be encouraged if and when justified or detailed information about the conditions under which the working of low grade and marginal deposits would become economic can be made available for use at the appropriate time.
The Plan lays down a programme based on the above principles and arranged in order of priority.
Some Important Minerals
12. An assessment of the reserves, in the light of present and future requirements and an indication of the future programme of surveys and investigation to be conducted and the policy to be adopted in respect of the following minerals viz., coal, iron ore, manganese ore, chromite, non-ferrous metals, bauxite, magnesite, mica, gypsum and sulphur, is given below.
13. DistributionThe main coal producing areas in India lie in the north-east in the States of Bihar and West Bengal which contribute nearly 82 % of the total output. The other producing areas lie in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Hyderabad and Assam. In addition, there are coal deposits of the tertiary age in several places in Assam, Kashmir, Bikaner, Cutch and Madras.
14. ReservesIn 1932, Sir Cyril Fox estimated the reserves of workable coal (in seam? of 4 ft. and over, with an ash content not in excess of 20 on a moisture free basis and occurring within 1,000 ft. of the surface) at 20,000 million tons. Of this, the good quality coal (averaging 16% ash on a moisture free basis and occurring within 2,000 ft. of the surface) would amount to about 5,000 million tons, the bulk of whichabout 4,600 million tons, is in the coalfields of Bihar and West Bengal. These estimates referred to Gondwana coals. In addition, the reserves of tertiary coal were estimated to be of the order of 2,500 million tons.
15. Coking coalCommittees appointed from time to time have stated that reserves of good quality coal are limited. The latest of these, the Committee on the Conservation of Metallurgical Coal (1949) has, on the basis of a re-survey, estimated the reserves of coking coal to be of the order of 2,000 million tons distributed as follows:
Expressed in another way :
The Committee adds:
" This is the in situ value. Probably we can expect a recovery with modern mining methods of 75%, say 1600 million tons. To this, we may blend one-fourth of weakly coking coal making the overall figure for coal available for coking 2,000 million tons. This figure, however, may well be halved unless precautions (notably compulsory stowing) are taken in mining and unless steps are taken to'use blends containing weakly coking coals and to wash the inferior grade of coking coal."
While the reserves of coking coal have been estimated recently by a special survey, the data regarding reserves of other grades of coal are not based on detailed estimates worked out from reliable surveys. It is necessary, therefore, that detailed surveys of coalfields should be undertaken in conjunction with drilling and prospecting. This has been provided for in the Plan.
16. Though, speaking generally, the coal reserves may be considered fairly adequate for the plans of industrialisation of the country, the position in regard to coking and semi-coking coal is clearly unsatisfactory. The future policy should, therefore, be one of strict enforcement of the conservation measures recommended by the Committee of 1949,
17. ProductionDuring the last three decades, coal production has nearly doubled and reached a record figure of over 34 million tons in 1951. Practically the whole of this (97 to 98%) comes from the Gondwana coalfields and 85% is contributed by the coalfields of the Damodar Valley. The oroduetion of coal in India since 1939 has been as follows:
18. ConsumptionThe figures available indicate that for the year 1950 consumption was distributed as follows:
The railways are the largest consumers, taking nearly 31% of the total production. Of this, about 40% is coking and semi-coking coal. The colliery consumption which includes consumption in boilers, power plants in the mine premises and domestic coke for the staff is of the order of n % of the total production. It is stated that owing to lack of control, the colliery labour take coal from wherever they can get it without regard for the quality and quantity taken. It would appear, therefore, that with proper control by the management, it should be possible to save coal and minimise waste. Of the total production of metallurgical grade coal, 'the railways consume about 40%, the iron and steel industry about 21%, about 13% is used for bunker and export and the balance is consumed by miscellaneous industries. The use of metallurgical coking coal for purposes other than for production of iron and steel and coking is unnecessary and the quantity used for these purposes should be replaced by coal of other quality. The Railways are already taking steps to reduce the use of metallurgical coking coal as speedily as possible. The switchover from metallurgical to non-metallurgical coal will, however, have to be effected without dislocating the industry. The Metallurgical Coal Committee (1949) considered that it should be possible to reduce output without serious dislocation to the industry in stages in a five year period reducing the consumption every year by about 10% of the previous year's figure and also by planning an increased production of steel during this period.
The 1949 Committee estimated that the consumption of coking coal in iron and steel-making (and in the coke ovens) would rise from 3-7 million tons in 1949 to 8 million tops when the expansion programme of the steel companies and the setting up of two proposed steel plants were completed. This estimate of 8 million tons is now found to be optimistic. The expansion of the iron and steel industry envisaged in the plan and the proposed new pig iron plant will need an additional i '8 million tons of coking coal by 1957-58, i.e. a total of 5. 5 million tons leaving a surplus of this grade of coal not needed for essential purposes.
19. With these considerations in view and having regard to the need for conserving coking coal, the following programme was recommended in 1950 by the Planning Commission:
20. (i) SurveyOf the total of about 100 coalfields in India, only a few have been investigated to a depth of 1,000 to 2,000 ft. Though working collieries are found widely spread over all the coalfields the full extent of the reserves of these fields are not known. It is therefore, necessary to have all the fields geologically mapped and the resources estimated by the Geological Survey of India in collaboration with the Bureau of Mines and provision has been made in the Plan in this respect. It is also necessary that a comprehensive and detailed survey should be undertaken of working collieries in a manner similar to what was done in assessing the resources of coking coal in connection with the enquiry of the Metallurgical Coal Committee. Such a survey will provide reliable estimates of the reserves available in working collieries and virgin areas. A physical and chemical survey of the nature and quality of coal seams in the various coal fields should also be undertaken.
The Geological Survey of India and the Indian Bureau of Mines should undertake detailed mapping and investigation of the following fields:
(ii) Classification of coalThe Coal Grading Board set up on the recommendations' of the Indian Coal Committee (1925) drew up a classification of Indian coals mainly for purposes of export. The Coal Commissioner in 1944 drew up a revised classification applicable to all coals. A revised scientific classification should now be introduced based upon calorific value, ash content, moisture and coking property. The classification should aim mainly at fixing the types and grades suited for various purposes and thus depend upon uses to which the coal is to be put. This question should be referred to a technical committee of experts familiar with Indian coals and with scientific classification in other countries. So far, no international classification of coal is available, but the International Standards Organisation has constituted a Technical Committee ro co-ordinate the various national standards and to evolve suitable forms of classification to facilitate the international exchange of information and a comparison on discussions of data relating to coal and its utilisation. Such a use classification will assist in controlling distribution and allocation of coal for different industries and also make it possible to buy and sell in accordance with specifications.
(iii) Appraisal of consumptionThough it is not possible to indicate precisely what the consumption will be by the end of the period of the Plan, a broad indication may be given of the order of increase in consumption by 1955-56. The additional demand is expected to be of the order of about 6 million tons4 million tons for the industrial development envisaged, i million tons for the railways and i million tons for additional thermal power generation and other purposes. Judging by recent trends in production, this additional demand can be met by the mining industry.
(iv) Reorganisation of transportThe Railways at present transport more than 90% of the coal produced in the country and there are no navigable waterways to carry coal cheaply to other parts of the country. Some coal is shipped from Calcutta by coastal steamers to coastal areas. But it has been found that the sea freights are substantially higher than railway freight. The use of coal by industries is now largely a matter of easy availability coupled with price. But beyond a short distance from the coalfield the pits mouth price has no influence on the demand as the freights equal or exceed the cost of coal and it becomes advantageous to the consumers to use the best grade he can procure. If the use of coal is to be rationalised, it would be necessary to supply suitable coals from the nearest coalfields. In recommending a programme for the replacement of coking coal used for non-essential purposes by non-coking coal, the Commission had two objects in view:
The Working Party for the Coal Industry has made similar recommendations to ease the difficult supply position in South India, Western India, Cutch and North Bihar.
21. South Arcot lignitePreliminary investigations indicate the existence of fairly large reserves of lignite over an area of at least 23 sq. miles. To determine the workability of the deposits, a programme of exploratory quarrying has been drawn up and this will be taken up shortly. The large-scale development of the deposits will have to await the results of the exploratory operations.
22. Railway collieriesA programme of development of some of the railway collieries has been drawn up. The programme includes mechanisation, sand stowing and opening up of new seams and new areas.
23. LabourThe coal mining industry employed in 1951 about 340,000 workers, an 'increase of 58% over that in 1941 (214,244). During the same period production registered an increase of 32 % (from 25-89 million tons to 34 million tons). There has thus been a decline in the output per man year from about 127 tons in 1941 to a little over 100 tons in1951. (The figures quoted above refer only to coalfields coming under the Indian. Mines Act). Coal mining in India is mostly a manual operation and very little machinery is used. Output per man shift, which may be taken as an index of the productivity of the worker, is low in India. The suggestions made in this respect by the Working Party for the Coal Industry, viss., mechanisation, proper lay out and planning of future mines, introduction of piece-rate system of payment and linking of bonus to the unit of production (instead of to attendance as at present) are being examined by Government.
24. ResearchExcept isolated studies by individual producers or consumers no organised research on problems connected with coal mining or utilisation has been undertaken in India so far. The Fuel Research Institute should undertake research on carbonisation and production of coke, design of coke ovens, washing and blending of coal and desulphurisarion of coal. The programme of investigations is set out in detail in paragraph 69 (i);
As laboratory research has to be supplemented by pilot and larger scale experiments for the results of research to be of an industrial value, the Fuel Research Institute should be adequately financed for these purposes. Provision has been made in the Plan for this.
25. Control and development of the coal industryThe Planning Commission in a sper"'-'31 paper prepared for the Government invited attention to:
After a review of the whole position, the Planning Commission made the following recommendations:
These recommendations involve a single legislative measure for coal which would provide for the purposes indicated above.
It also suggested that if practical convenience required it, action might be taken in stages ; firstly, legislation for enforcing conservation measures ; secondly, setting up a Coal Board ; and thirdly, legislation for the consolidation of the cesses.
20. Action taken by GovernmentTaking into consideration the recommendations of the Planning Commission, the Government of India promulgated the Coal Mines (Conservation and Safety) Ordinance, 1952, which has been subsequently passed by Parliament and issued as the Coal Mines (Conservation and Safety) Act, 1952. Under the Act, the Central Government will have the following powers:
The Central Government will in each year pay to the Board a sum not exceeding the excise duty collected (the amount to be determined in such manner as may be prescribed). This amount will be credited to a fund called the Coal Mines (Safety and Conservation) Fund, which will be operated by the Board to meet among other things :
The Act repeals the Coal Mines Safety (Stowing) Act, 1939, and will take over the amount lying to the credit of the Coal Mines (Stowing) Fund as on the 8th January, 1952 and transfer it to the Coal Mines (Safety and Conservation) Fund.
In pursuance of section 4 of the Act, the Central Government have established a Coal Board consisting of a Chairman and three members and have prescribed the rates of excise duty leviable on coal and coke and the additional excise duty leviable on hard coke.
27. DistributionIndia's resources of iron ore are of large dimensions. Ores of good quality occur in Singhbhum district of Bihar ; Bonai and Mayurbhanj in Orissa , Chanda, Drug and Bastar districts of Madhya Pradesh ; Salem, Tiruchirapalii and Bellary districts of Madras ; Ratnagiri district of Bombay and the adjoining area of Goa , and in the Shimoga, Kadur and other districts of Mysore. There are smaller deposits in Almora district of the U.P. ; PEPSU; Kumul and Cudappah districts of Madras and the coalfields of West Bengal, while deposits of lower grade are scattered over diiferent parts of the peninsula.
28. ReservesThe ores in most cases contain a high percentage of metallic iron (over 60 %) and are generally low in phosphorous and sulphur. Reserves of good quality iron ore (containing over 60% iron) are estimated to be over 10,000 million tons, the bulk of which is concentrated in Bihar-and Orissa. Except the Bihar and Orissa occurrences, the deposits are not situated close to supplies of coking coal.
The ore deposits particularly those of Bihar and Orissa have been investigated in a general way by the Geological Survey of India, but except in the case of a few of them those worked by the steel companiesthe investigations have not been sufficiently detailed to prove their quality and quantity. The present estimates are only in the nature of a broad indication of the magnitude of the reserves. A proper assessment of the quality and quantity of these deposits is necessary and it is suggested that the deposits in the following areas may be investigated in detail :
29. Production, consumption and demandThe average annual production of iron ore during the past few years has been varying between two to three million tons, the chief producing regions being in the iron ore belt of Bihar and Orissa, and Mysore. Mysore's share in production has been varying between 40,000 and 60,000 tons and practically all the rest has come from Bihar and Orissa. These figures may be taken as an index of the present capacity of the two regions to utilise iron ore for the production of pig iron. Most of the ore is utilised by the three iron and steel plants at Tatanagar, Asansol (Hirapur) and Bhadravati, while a small quantity has been exported.
Production of Iron Ore, Pig Iron and Steel
The average annual production of pig iron in India is of the order of i^ to 2 million tons, and of steel about i million tons. Production does not meet the demand in full and the gap between production and demand is filled to some extent by imports from abroad. Both iron and steel have been in short supply in the war and post-war years :
Imports of iron and steel (Value in Rs. lakhs)
The estimated demand (1955-56) for pig iron and steel is shown in the following table ,.:ner with the present capacity and the schedule of expansion contemplated.
(Figures in thousand tons)
The expansion of production of pig iron and steel envisaged above would involve expan-ion in the production of raw materials as shown below :
The increased production of the abovementioned raw materials would require provision j- necessary transport facilities for assembling these raw materials and for the movement of manufactured products.
Figures inclusive of imports on Government Account.
30. ExportsThere has been a small export trade in iron ore, as indicated below:
Export of iron ore has been fluctuating. In recent years, the export demand for iron ore has increased but limitations of transport have restricted the extent to which this demand can be met. The long-term policy is to expand pig iron production to meet internal demand as well as, if possible, for the export market, instead of permitting exports of ore.
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