India is a major mineral producer in Asia and globally. It is currently a global producer of chromite, coal, iron ore and bauxite. India has been enjoying economic growth during the nineties.
Several of India’s current state owned mining and beneficiation companies have been faced with drastic production cuts, resulting in operations becoming uneconomical. This has resulted in the closure of several mining operations. Reasons for poor results have been given as lower grade reserves and excessive manpower quotas.
Since the enunciation of the National Mineral Policy, 1993, India has made good progress in attracting foreign investment in its mining sector, with attractive incentives. The National Mineral Policy was revised in 1994 and as a result, private investment (both domestic and foreign), has been permitted for the exploration and exploitation of the following minerals: Iron – ore, Copper, Manganese, Lead, Chrome ore, Zinc, Sulphur, Molybdenum, Gold, Tungsten ore, Diamond, Nickel and Platinum group of metals.
As a result, several foreign companies have begun investing in India, with the majority coming from Canada and the USA, followed by Australia, the UK and South Africa. Most interest has been shown in the base metals, diamond, mineral sands and gold sectors.
India has several governmental agencies that have been set up to assist in the development of the country’s mineral resources. The Geological Survey of India (GSI) is the principal agency responsible for the assessment of geological and regional mineral resources of the country. GSI was established in 1851 and is one of India’s oldest investigative agencies in the field of earth sciences. Its areas of operation encompass scientific surveys and research, for locating mineral resources. GSI operates through six regional offices and four specialised wings – marine, coal geophysics, airborne surveys and training.
The Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) is the principal government agency responsible for compiling exploration data and mineral maps and for providing access to the latest information is respect of mineral resources in the country. IBM has both regulatory as well as service functions.