India produces nearly 95 minerals, including fuel, metallic, non-metallic, and minor minerals, which serve as raw materials to various industries. As an important economic segment, the mining sector facilitates economic growth. Odisha is the leading state in terms of the estimated value of mineral production in the country, contributing nearly a quarter of the national output.
Economic contribution of India's mining sector
The mining industry has been a significant contributor to the Indian economy. As one of the world's top producers of iron ore and bauxite, the harvest accounts for roughly 2.5 percent of gross domestic product in India. The country accounts for nearly 7.6 percent of global coal production and a ten percent share of the global proved coal reserves. Despite having large coal reserves, India's coal imports have been rising to meet the growing demand.
Indian mining companies
India's mining market is diverse, and accordingly, the largest mines are primarily state-owned. The majority of the country's mines are owned by private companies that are market leaders in their respective manufacturing industries. Mineral concessions in India are granted to Indian nationals or entities incorporated in India only. However, under Indian FDI policy, foreign parties can invest up to 100 percent in such companies' equity. The state-owned Coal India, the largest employer in the mining industry, was among the top ten mining companies in the world that focus on mining production and operations. Vedanta, NALCO, and Hindalco were the leading aluminum producers.
Commercial coal mining
To revive the economy following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Indian government launched commercial coal mining to firms other than those in the steel and power sectors in 2020. The move was to boost domestic coal production, reduce imports, and benefit all user industries. However, this was stalled, citing the need for an extension by investors. Historically, mining has harmed the country's environment, also affecting specific communities. The government's launch of coal auctions for commercial coal mining once again triggered the debate around the transition to clean energy.
The question about how to economically benefit from our natural resources while protecting the environment and ensuring justice to affected communities is yet to be answered.
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Research lead covering energy, chemicals & resources