India country overview

The economy of India

Geography, People, Culture, and Economic Profile

India information index

Resources of India

India boasts a substantial array of mineral and natural resources, yet when measured on a per capita basis, the nation’s allocation of essential assets such as arable land, freshwater, timber, and established petroleum reserves is relatively modest. Despite this, India’s variety of resources, particularly in minerals, surpasses that of the majority of other countries, providing a significant edge in its industrial progression.

The country relies heavily on its domestic mineral supply to bolster its diverse manufacturing sector and to generate a small but significant portion of its export income. Historically, the Indian government has exerted considerable influence over the mining sector by nationalizing numerous foreign and domestic enterprises and initiating and managing others. Over time, this public sector dominance has waned as private sector investment has expanded.

India’s mineral wealth includes substantial reserves of high-quality iron ore and ferroalloys, notably manganese and chromite, which are distributed extensively across the Indian peninsula. Other valuable metallic minerals available for extraction include copper, bauxite (aluminum’s primary ore), zinc, lead, gold, and silver. Key nonmetallic and nonfuel minerals include limestone, dolomite, rock phosphate, building stone, ceramic clays, mica, gypsum, fluorspar, magnesite, graphite, and diamonds.

Iron stands out as the most valuable metal produced in India, with significant mining occurring in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, and Odisha. Copper, predominantly sourced from Rajasthan and Bihar, is a notable second in terms of value. Other important metals and minerals include gold, zinc, lead, ferroalloys, bauxite, and a range of notable nonmetallic minerals such as limestone and phosphate.

Fuel minerals considerably outpace other minerals in production value, with petroleum leading in importance, followed by coal (including lignite). India is self-sufficient in coal production, with a marginal surplus for export, but only meets a fraction of its petroleum requirements domestically. Major petroleum sources include the offshore Bombay High Field, as well as onshore reserves in Gujarat and Assam. Coal is extracted from numerous mines across various states, with the most prolific coal-producing region situated along the Damodar River. Although natural gas plays a minor role, uranium is mined in modest amounts in Bihar.

Regarding fossil fuels, India has a rich coal endowment and a moderate lignite supply. The Chota Nagpur Plateau is a primary source of coking coal, with widespread coal deposits that are easily accessible. Domestic reserves of petroleum and natural gas, while significant, fall short of the country’s substantial needs. Petroleum is extracted from eastern Assam, Gujarat, and the offshore Bombay High, with additional reserves discovered in various onshore and offshore locations.

India’s utilities, predominantly state-controlled, struggle to match the surging demand for services. Electricity consumption, for instance, has seen exponential growth from 1951 to 1980 and continued to increase significantly thereafter. The majority of electricity is generated from coal-fired thermal plants distributed across the country, complemented by hydroelectric plants situated in mountainous areas or along major escarpments, and a minimal contribution from nuclear facilities. Power outages and rationing are common during peak demand periods, as demand often exceeds available capacity in many areas. Industrial usage accounts for over half of the electricity consumption, with agricultural use, primarily for irrigation, surpassing residential consumption. Rural electrification is advancing swiftly, connecting the vast majority of villages to the power grid.

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