Mining as primary sector of economics is very important for development. Not for employment but utilization of natural resources. Minerals constitute the back-bone of economic growth of any nation and India has been eminently endowed with this gift of nature. There are many evidence that exploitation of minerals like coal, iron-ore, copper, lead-zinc has been going on in the country from time immemorial. The Mining industry in India is a major economic activity which contributes significantly to the economy of India. The GDP contribution of the mining industry varies from 2.2% to 2.5% only but going by the GDP of the total industrial sector it contributes around 10% to 11%. Even mining done on small scale contributes 6% to the entire cost of mineral production. Indian mining industry provides job opportunities to around 700,000 individuals
However, the first recorded history of mining in India dates back to 1774 when an English Company was granted permission by the East India Company for mining coal in Raniganj. M/s John Taylor & Sons Ltd. started gold mining in Kolar Gold Fields in the year 1880. The first oil well was drilled in Digboi in the year 1866 – just seven years after the first ever oil well was drilled anywhere in the world viz. in Pennsylvania state, USA in 1859. Mining activities in the country however remained primitive in nature and modest in scale uptill the beginning of the current century. Thereafter, with progressive industrialisation the demand for and hence the production of various minerals gradually went up. After India became independent, the growth of mining under the impact of successive Five Year Plans has been very fast. There are ambitious plans in coal, metalliferous and oil sectors to increase production of minerals during the 8th Five Year Plan and thereafter.
India has significant sources of coal (fourth-largest reserves in the world), bauxite, titanium ore, chromite, natural gas, diamonds, petroleum, and limestone. According to the 2008 Ministry of Mines estimates: ‘India has stepped up its production to reach the second rank among the chromite producers of the world. Besides, India ranks 3rd in production of coal & lignite, 2nd in barites, 4th in iron ore, 5th in bauxite and crude steel, 7th in manganese ore and 8th in Aluminium.
India accounts for 12% of the world’s known and economically available thorium. It is the world’s largest producer and exporter of mica, accounting for almost 60 percent of the net mica production in the world, which it exports to the United Kingdom, Japan, United States of America etc. As one of the largest producers and exporters of iron ore in the world, its majority exports go to Japan, Korea, Europe and the Middle East. Japan accounts for nearly 3/4 of India’s total iron ore exports. It also has one of the largest deposits of manganese in the world, and is a leading producer as well as exporter of manganese ore, which it exports to Japan, Europe (Sweden, Belgium, Norway, among other countries), and to a lesser extent, the United States of America.
D.R. Khullar holds that mining in India depends on over 3,100 mines, out of which over 550 are fuel mines, over 560 are mines for metals, and over 1970 are mines for extraction of nonmetals. The figure given by S.N. Padhi is: ‘about 600 coal mines, 35 oil projects and 6,000 metalliferous mines of different sizes employing over one million persons on a daily average basis. Both open cast mining and underground mining operations are carried out and drilling/pumping is undertaken for extracting liquid or gaseous fuels. The country produces and works with roughly 100 minerals, which are an important source for earning foreign exchange as well as satisfying domestic needs. India also exports iron ore, titanium, manganese, bauxite, granite, and imports cobalt, mercury, graphite etc.
Unless controlled by other departments of the Government of India mineral resources of the country are surveyed by the Indian Ministry of Mines, which also regulates the manner in which these resources are used. The ministry oversees the various aspects of industrial mining in the country. Both the Geological Survey of India and the Indian Bureau of Mines are also controlled by the ministry. Natural gas, petroleum and atomic minerals are exempt from the various activities of the Indian Ministry of Mines
In India, systematic surveying, prospecting and exploration for minerals is undertaken by the Geological Survey of India (GSI), Central Mine Planning & Design Institute (CMPDI), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL), National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), Bharat Gold Mines Limited (BGML), Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) and the Departments of Mining and Geology in various states. The Centre for Techno Economic Mineral Policy Options (C-TEMPO) is a think tank under the Ministry of Mines which looks at the national exploration policy.