The state of Karnataka is abundant in mineral resources. It is said to be one of the most mineral rich states of India. The mineral belt covers an area of 1.92 lakh sq.km including 29 districts of the state. Karnataka is also endowed with the green stone belt with valuable mineral resources such as gold, silver, copper, iron-ore, manganese, limestone, dolomite, asbestos, bauxite, chromite, kaolin and graniterock. The main minerals found in Karnataka are listed below:
Gold: The Kolar Gold Fields in Kolar used to be one of the major producers of gold in India, before it shut down. Presently the gold mines of Hutti and Raichur produce almost 84 per cent of the country’s gold. The other major centers of gold mining are Dharwad and Chitradurga. The gold mines produce about 3,000 kg’s of gold per annum. The district of Raichur is also famous for its silver deposits.
Iron ore: Karnataka has over 9,000 million tonnes of iron ore resources, of which the bulk is in the magnetite form. The production during the year 2007-08 crossed 47 million tons. The districts of Bellary and Hospet are the main districts, whereas Chitradurga, Bagalkot and Tumkur districts are also produce significant amounts of iron ore. The chunk of the iron ore is exported to be used in steel manufacture and pig iron and sponge iron plants.
Limestone: It is another important mineral with an estimated 51,000 million tons. Karnataka has the largest limestone reserve in India. The districts of Gulbarga, Bagalkot, Belgaum, Shimoga and other Uttara Kannada districts are endowed with extensive high grade limestone. The present and consistent production of approximately 14 million tonnes provides for the cement plants in these districts.
Granite: Karnataka has vast resources of granite deposits. These deposits have brought the state into the international scenario. The district of Mysore is famous for its black granite and the Bellary and Raichur is famous for its pink version. Pink granite is also quarried at Uduvagere and Managalli in Magadi taluk of Bangalore district, Deodurg, Mundargi, Masarkal, Savanthagal in Deodurg taluk and in Bijapur.
Felsite: Karnataka is the only Indian state where felsite is produced. Large occurrences of Felsite rocks are reported to have been found in Kirangur, Hosahalli and Srirangapatanam and Mysore. These rocks display either grey or pink colour as well a combination of both theses colours.
Manganese ore: Karnataka has the largest recoverable reserves of manganese ore in the country. It is mostly found in the Chitradurga district. Shimoga and North Kanara district as well as the Bellary and Mysore districts are other places where manganese ore is found.
Other Minerals in Karnataka
Other minerals found scattered across the state are Chromite, Dolomite, and Bauxite. Chromite is found in altered ultrabasic rocks in the districts of Chikmagalur, Chitradurga, Hassan, Mysore and Shimoga. Dolomite’s presence has been recorded at a number of places. There is a possibility of a reserve of 1112 million tonnes of Dolomite deposits in the regions of Belgaum and Bijapur districts. Bauxite is found in the Chikmagalure district.
Karnataka is among the very few Indian states to formulate a progressive mineral policy as early as the year 2000. Features such as transparency in granting mineral concessions, adoption of modern techniques in mining and emphasis on value addition and sustainability make this policy so progressive.