Mineral Fuels


Mineral fuels include –

  • (a) Coal
  • (b) Petroleum
  • (c) Natural Gas
  • (d) Atomic or Radioactive Minerals

Coal

In India, coal is the primary source of commercial energy.

It is used as fuel –

  • in industries,
  • in thermal power stations,
  • for domestic purposes in some parts of the country,

It is used as raw material –

  • in chemical and fertiliser industries,
    • in the production of thousands of items of daily use.

As per the assessment of January, 2005 the total coal reserves of the country stand at 2,47,847 million tonnes. Unfortunately, the bulk of the Indian coal reserves are of rather poor quality. We meet part of our coking coal requirements through import.

In India, emphasis is being laid on setting thermal and super thermal power station on or near the coal fields and electricity generated is supplied to far off places through transmission lines. At one time Indian railways were the largest consumer of coal. Since they have switched on to the use of diesel and electricity they are no more the direct consumer of coal.

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Distribution

Coal in India occurs in two important types of coal fields. They are the Gondwana coal fields and Tertiary coal fields.

  • Out of the total coal reserves and production in India, Gondwana coal fields contribute 98% and the rest 2% is produced by tertiary coal fields.
  • The Gondwana coal fields are located in the sedimentary rock systems of lower Gondwana Age. They are distributed chiefly in the river valleys of –
    • the Damodar (Jharkhand – West Bengal);
    • the Son (Madhya Pradesh – Chhattisgarh);
    • the Mahanadi (Orissa);
    • the Godavari (Andhra Pradesh) and
    • the Wardha (Maharashtra).
  • Tertiary coalfields occur in the extra-peninsular areas which include Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Sikkim.
  • Lignite or brown coal are found in coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and in land basins of Rajasthan.

Reserves

  • Jharkhand ranks highest in production as well as reserves of coal in India. The coal deposits of Jharkhand mainly occur in Dhanbad, Hazaribagh and Palamau district. In Dhanbad district the most important coalfields of Jharia and Chandrapura are located.
  • The oldest coal fields of Raniganj is situated in West Bengal. It is the second largest coalfield in India. Raniganj coalfield stretches over Burdwan and Purulia districts.
  • In Chhattisgarh, coal deposits occur in Bilaspur and Sarguja districts.
  • In Madhya Pradesh, coal deposits are found in Sidhi, Shahdol and Chhindwara districts. Singrauli coalfield in Shadhol and Sidhi districts is the largest in the state.
  • In Andhra Pradesh, coal occurs in the district of Adilabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, Khammam and West Godavari.
  • In Orissa, Talcher is an important coal field. Other coal field are in Sambalpur and Sundargarh districts.
  • In Maharashtra the coal fields are found in the districts of Chandrapura, Yeotmal and Nagpur.

In comparison to India’s coal reserves, lignite reserves are relatively modest. The bulk of lignite reserves are located in and around Neyveli in Tamil Nadu. Significant lignite reserves are found in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Pondicherry and Jammu & Kashmir.

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Petroleum

Petroleum has often been called liquid gold / black gold because of its value in our modern civilization. Our agriculture, industry and transport system depend on petroleum in several ways.

  • The crude petroleum is a mixture of combustible hydrocarbons in solid, liquid and gaseous forms.
  • Petroleum products are used as fuel, lubricant, material for manufacturing synthetic derivatives and chemicals required in industries.
  • Petrol, kerosene, diesel, detergents, synthetic fibres, plastics, cosmetics etc. are important products derived from petroleum.

Distribution

Petroleum occurs in anticlines and fault traps. In India, it is found in the sedimentary rock formation. Most of such areas lie in the Assam, Gujarat and off shore areas along the western coast.

  • The entire production of India till today comes from the Assam belt, Gujarat-Cambay belt and Bombay High.
    • The Assam belt extends from Dehang basin in the extreme north-east of Assam along the outer flanks of hill ranges forming the eastern border of Bhitra and Surma Valley.
      • In Assam, the oil-producing area is located in the Lakhimpur and Sibsagar districts. The oil wells are located mainly around Digboi, Naharkatiya, Sibsagar and Rudrasagar.
    • The Gujarat-Cambay belt extends from Mehsana (Gujarat) in the north to the continental shelf off the coast right up to Ratnagiri (Maharashtra) in the south.
    • It covers Bombay High which is the largest producer of petroleum in the country.
  • In Gujarat, the oil-producing area covers Vadodara, Broach, Kheda, Mehsana and Surat Districts.
  • Recently petroleum reserves are discovered in the state of Rajasthan covering major areas of Bikaner, Barmer and Jaisalmer and gas has been discovered along the east coast in the Godavari and Krishna deltas.
  • The prospective areas lying in the Bay of Bengal, covers the coastline along the state of West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

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Oil Refineries in India

The crude petroleum taken from oil fields needs to be refined before it can be used. Oil refining is really a big chemical engineering industry involving a complicated process.

  • Presently there are 17 oil refineries in India under public sector and 1 in private sector.
  • These refineries are at –
    • Digboi, Bongaigaon, Nunamati (All are in Assam),
    • Mumbai (two) (Maharashtra),
    • Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh),
    • Barauni (Bihar),
    • Koyali (Gujarat),
    • Mathura (U.P.),
    • Panipat (Haryana),
    • Kochi (Kerala),
    • Mangalore (Karnataka) and
    • Chennai (Tamil Nadu).
  • The only private oil refineries belongs to Reliance Industries Ltd. is located at Jamnagar (Gujarat).
  • These oil refineries are supplied crude oil either by ships or by pipelines.
  • Although the annual production shows an increasing trend, the country has to import petroleum and petroleum products to meet its requirements.

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Natural Gas

Natural gas is emerging as an important source of commercial energy. Most of the time it is found in association with petroleum. The recoverable reserves of natural gas (as on 1st April, 2001) are estimated at 638 billion cubic metres. But this quantity will increase as more and more reserves are discovered at eastern coast namely Krishna, Godavari and Mahanadi basins. Production of natural gas in 2003-04 was about 31 billion cubic metres.

Gas Authority of India was established in the year 1984 with an aim for processing, transporting, distributing and marketing of natural gas. The company owns and operates a network of over 5,340 km of natural gas pipeline in the country.

Atomic or Radioactive Minerals

Atomic energy can be produced by fission or fusion of the atoms or rather the nuclear parts of radio-active minerals like uranium thorium and radium. India possesses the world’s largest reserves of monazite, the principal source of thorium and some reserves of uranium.

Uranium

In India, uranium is embedded in the igneous and metamorphic rocks in Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Himalayas. A substantial source of uranium deposits is also found in the monazite sands along the Kerala coasts.

The production of uranium at present is confined to the mines at Jaduguda in Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. The total reserves of uranium in the country are enough to support 5,000-10,000 mw of electricity generating capacity.

Thorium

Thorium is principally obtained from monazite. The beach sands of Kerala in Palghat and Quilon district contain the world’s richest monazite deposits. It also occurs on the sands of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

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Bibliography : NIOS Geography Book

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