The rocks and minerals from which metallic iron can be economically extracted is called iron ore. This mineral is used to make pig iron which in turn is used to make steel making it the backbone for industrial development in any country. Iron ore is of four different types as outlined below –
a) Magnetite – This is the best quality of iron ore with a up to or more than 70%of iron content. It is magnetic in nature making it a good conductor and highly valuable in the electrical industry.
b) Haematite – The second grade of iron ore has an iron content of 50 – 60% and is a very important source for industrial iron.
c) Limonite – This is an inferior iron ore as the iron content is around 40 -50% but economically viable because it can be accessed through open -cast mining.
d) Siderite – This is an iron carbonate with less than 40% of iron content making it the most inferior type of iron ore. But there are uses for it because of its elf-fluxing nature due to the presence of lime.
India is the 5th largest producer of iron ore in the world. The main qualities of the iron ore deposits found in India have been outlined below –
i) Average metal content of the ores is one of the highest (64%) among the major iron ore producing countries of the world.
ii) Production is dominated by haematite and magnetite. Mining of inferior quality ores is insignificant.
iii) Mining of iron ores in India is open-cast or surface-mining. Since underground mining is not needed, cost of mining is low.
Distribution of iron-ore in India
1) Odisha-Jharkhand belt: In Odisha high grade hematite ore is found in Badampahar mines in the Mayurbhanj and Kendujhar districts. In the adjoining Singbhum district of Jharkhand haematite iron ore is mined in Gua and Noamundi.
2) Durg-Bastar-Chandrapur belt: lies in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Very high grade hematites are found in the famous Bailadila range of hills in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh. The range of hills comprise of 14 deposits of super high grade hematite iron ore which is best for steel making steel making. Iron ore from these mines is exported to Japan and South Korea via Vishakhapatnam port.
3) Ballari-Chitradurga-Chikkamagaluru- Tumakuru belt in Karnataka has large reserves of iron ore. The Kudremukh mines located in the Western Ghats of Karnataka are a 100 per cent export unit. Kudremukh deposits are known to be one of the largest in the world. The ore is transported as slurry through a pipeline to a port near Mangaluru.
4) Maharashtra- Goa belt includes the state of Goa and Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. Though, the ores are not of very high quality, yet they are efficiently exploited. Iron ore is exported through Marmagao port.
Iron ore is also mined in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Mineral in India are unevenly distributed.
Mineral resources provide the basic raw materials required by human society for development. Minerals found in their raw forms are called ores. India has a rich and
varied source of minerals. Although the vast alluvial plains of India do not have mineral deposits, the rich concentrations make up for this lack.
Peninsular rocks in the Deccan region and eastern plateau area contains most of the coal reserves, metallic and non-metallic minerals as well. Sedimentary rocks of the western and eastern coasts in Gujrat and Assam are rich in petroleum reserves. The rock system of Rajasthan has several important deposits of non-ferrous minerals.
It is evident from the distribution that India though blessed with a variety of mineral reserves is also hampered by their uneven distribution. Mineral formation processes can be blamed for this uneven distribution. Differences in geological structures, processes and time required in the formation of minerals have led to this uneven distribution of minerals in India.