Mineral Resources: Types, Impact of Mineral Activities on Environment and it’s Conservation!
Minerals are the substances deposited with in earth crust from which an element of importance can be extracted using suitable technique. These are non-renewable assets and once, mined out of the deposit, get depleted and lost forever. Along with population explosion, industrialisation and technological growth have led to an increase demand in per head consumption of minerals.
According to geologists, the known reserves of minerals may not last long and most of them will be exhausted within 100 to 200 years. So now the scientists are in search of new sources of minerals in the sea bed which may reduce the futuristic fears of exhaustion of resources.
The mineral resources are of two types:
(a) Terrestrial mineral resources:
The mineral resources present in the land surface are known as terrestrial minerals. The chief mineral resources are mineral oils (fossil fuels), natural gases, ores of different metals, coal etc. As per available report, the original stock of petroleum and coal were about 1,250 billion barrels and 6000 billion ton respectively and by 1960, nearly 100 billion barrels of petroleum and 100 billion tons of coal had been exploited.
The different types of minerals are:
(i) Mineral or ore containing structural metals (e.g. Fe, AI etc..),
(ii) Mineral or ore containing Nobel metals (e.g., Pt, Au, Ag etc.);
(iii) Minerals or ore containing scarce metals (e.g. Cu, Pb, Zn, Mn, Ni, Hg etc.)
As per Geological survey of India, the different types of minerals present in India are bauxite, coal, lignite, dolomite, gypsum, hematite, lime stone, ores of Cu, Au, Pb, Zn, Mn, Mi etc.
(b) Marine mineral resources:
The mineral resources present in sea water, on the sea bed and below the sea bed are referred as marine mineral resources. The mineral resources contain elements like Na, Mg, Cl2, Br2, Sr, B, Si, Ar, N2, Li, Rb, Zn, Fe, Ni, V, Ba, Mo etc. The deep sea basin of Indian Ocean is found to contain three types of mineral resources.
(i) Terrigeneous minerals which have plenty of limnite (ore of titranium, monazite (ore of thorium) and calcareous sands,
(ii) Biogeneous deposits consist of shell pieces and skeletal debris present at the ocean floor
(iii) Chemogeneous deposits consist of manganese nodules (Mn = 19% # pe = 12%) and other deposits containing elements like Ni, Co, Cu etc.
Impact of mineral activities on environment:
The mining activities have significant impact on environment.
Some major impacts may be outlined as follows:
(i) To develop mining’s, there is cutting trees causing deforestation which subsequently induces soil erosion.
(ii) Minining activities release a lot of particulates into environment which become sites for accumulations of toxic substances and cause severe damage to living system.
(iii) The release of various effluents after the operations like concentration, beneficiation and refining can cause pollution of water bodies.
(iv) The poisonous gases released during mining causes air pollution.
Conservation of Mineral Resources:
The conservation of mineral resources means efforts to utilize mineral in best possible ways depending upon the industrial needs and changing technological requirements, so that the life of the deposits is increased.
On the basis of whether the minerals are completely utilized or not, these are divided into two categories:
(i) Expendable and
(ii) Non expendable.
The minerals which are completely lost on their consumption, are known as expendable minerals, e.g. coal, fossil fuel, natural gases etc. The minerals which can be used again and again through recycling except those quantities that are lost due to corrosion and abrasion, are known as nonexpendable minerals e.g. metals.
Some important efforts to conserve minerals resources are as follows:
(i) Selection and adoption of suitable methodology of mining which will have negligible effect on environment.
(ii) Economic and optimum use of minerals.
(iii) Recovering all associated elements as co-products or byproducts.
(iv) Use and reuse of scraps after suitable treatments.
(v) Replacing rare and costly minerals with those which are abundant and cheaper.