What Are The Major Natural Resources Of India?

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe on January 14 2019 in Economics

The mining industry is a large contributor to India's economy.
The mining industry is a large contributor to India's economy.

India is an independent state found in South Asia, and it is ranked as the 7th biggest in the world with an area covering 1.269 million square miles. India’s population is standing at about 1.2 billion people making the country rank as world’s second most populous nation. According to IMF, India’s economy in 2017 was worth $2.611 trillion. The country has managed to maintain an impressive GDP growth rate of 5.8% over two decades and managed to reach the highest point of 6.1% during 2011-2012. India is among the world’s most rapidly growing economies. However, the country is ranked the 140th, regarding nominal GDP per capita and rank at position 129th, in regards to GDP based on purchasing power parity. The country maintained a protectionist approach with influence from the socialist economies up to 1991. State regulations and intervention were widespread during this period, and the economy was protected from the outside world. The acute imbalance of payment which culminated to a crisis in 1991 forced the government to liberalize its economy and ever since the country has moved towards a free market-based economy which emphasizes direct investment inflows and foreign trade. Some of India’s natural resources include iron ore, bauxite, manganese, mica, diamonds, natural gas, oil, arable land, and chromites among others.

Arable Land

India has a long history of practising agriculture which could be traced back to the Indus valley civilization period. In the southern part of the country, agriculture was practised much earlier before the Indus valley civilization. The country is ranked as the second highest producer of farm produce globally, and in 2018 the agriculture sector in India employed 50% on the country's labor force and contributed between 17% and 18% of the country's GDP. In 2016, agriculture with its allied sectors such as the fisheries and forestry contributed approximately 15.4% of the GDP and employed about 13% of the country's labor force. India is the world leader with the highest net crop area and is being closely followed by the United States and China. The significance of agriculture has a contributing factor to the country's GDP has been declining as the country's broad-based economy has also been growing. The country exported agricultural products worth $38 billion in 2013, making India the seventh largest exporter of agricultural produce and the sixth largest exporter in general worldwide. Most of the agricultural exports from India were destined to mostly the developing and least developed countries. The horticultural and processed products were exported to more than 120 different countries particularly in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, the US, and the EU.


The mining industry in India accounts for 11% of the industrial GDP in the country and approximately 25% of the total GDP. As of 2010, mining and industrial metal ore were valued at more than $104.6 billion. Small-scale mining in the country contributes approximately 6% of the whole cost of mineral production in the country. The industry employs approximately 700,000 people. As of 2012, the country was the world’s leader in producing sheet mica, the third-largest producer of iron ore in the world, and the fifth largest producer of bauxite mineral. Mining in the country has been infamous for violations of human rights and environmental pollution, and the industry has been marred with several high-profile cases of mining scandals in the recent past. Mineral distribution in the country is not even, and they vary from one region to another. Experts have identified five different mineral belts in the country which include the north-western belt, south-western belt, Southern belt, central belt, and north-eastern peninsula belt. India has more than 3,100 mines, and more than 550 of these mines are a source of fuels minerals and more than 560 are a source of metal minerals, while more than 1970 are a source of nonmetal minerals. The country has the ministry of coal as well as the ministry of steel.


India has huge deposits of coal, and it has the world’s 4th largest reserves. Mining of coal in India has a long history, which can be traced back to 1774 when the first commercial exploitation was carried out by the East Indian Company, Suetonius Grant Heatly near the banks of Damodar River. When the steam locomotives were introduced in 1853, the demand for coal increased significantly and production reached about 1 million metric tons every year. By 1900, the country was producing 6.12 million metric tons, and by 1920, it was producing 18 million metric tons annually. By 1946, as a result of WWII, production of coal in India was averaging 30 million metric tons annually. In 2016-2017, India produced 662.79 million metric tons, which represented an increase of 4.69% compared to the previous year. Currently, India is ranked as the second largest producer of coal in the world, and some of the leading states that produce coal include Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh.

Iron Ore

India is one of the largest producers of iron ore, ranking as the 3rd largest in the world, following Australia and Brazil, and it is estimated that the country has recoverable deposits of iron ore reaching up to 9,602 million tons. The principal regions producing iron ore in the country include Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Odisha, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh. In 2009-2010, India produced about 226 million tons of iron ore and exported about 117.37 million tons. Currently, there are more than 500 mines, and about half of these are operational which are held by almost 80 different companies. The high-grade iron ore of about 62% to 65% iron is produced particularly in the eastern and southern part of the country, while low-grade ores having between 50% and 60% iron are mined in the western and southern part of India. The country's biggest mining company in the country is the state-owned known as National Minerals Development Corporation (NMDC) which produces approximately 29 million tons of iron ore mainly for local use. India exports most of its iron ore to China which is the largest buyer.

Future of the Indian Economy

India's annual growth rate of GDP has been around 7%, and according to trading in economics GDP annual growth rate in 2019 could reach 7.3%, and in the long term, it is estimated to reach 6.4% in 2020. According to OECD economic growth will remain robust in 2019 and is expected to grow at a rate of 7.5% for both 2019 and 2020.

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