Mining refers to the process of extracting minerals and metals from the crust of the earth. Some minerals can be mined more easily as they are found on the earth’s surface, while others lie far beneath the surface and can be obtained only by digging deep underground. Gold, Silver, Diamond, Iron, Coal, Aluminum (Bauxite) and Uranium are some of the vast array of metals and minerals that are obtained by the latter process. In fact, mining is the source of all the substances that cannot be obtained by industrial processes or through agriculture.
Mining, in its wider sense connotes extracting and processing of a non – renewable mineral resource. Minerals can be classified into metallic (iron, copper, gold, aluminum, uranium etc.) and non-metallic (sand, salt, phosphates etc.) These minerals are non-renewable or depleting assets and once mined-out, they are exhausted and are lost forever without any chance of replenishment. Simply, this exhaustible resource cannot be harvested, unlike agricultural products.
Minerals and metals have played a crucial role in the development and continuation of human civilization. Mining or mineral development comprising exploration of the nature’s mineral reserves, their extraction from below the earth’s crust in solid, gaseous and liquid forms and subsequent processing and recovery of derivative-products for industrial and commercial purposes have been an important human and business activity over the ages.
India, a land of remarkable mining wealth, has provided the world with many fine mineral specimens like diamond, sapphire and the zeolite group in particular. India possesses huge reserves of iron, extensive deposits of coal and mineral oil, rich deposits of bauxite and has a virtual monopoly of mica.
Mining and metallurgical sector is vital to the development and economic growth of developing countries like India. The products of the sector (including metallic and non-metallic minerals) are not only essential for the developmental activities and many industrial processes, but are also often valuable source of foreign exchange earnings.