Distribution of Copper-Nickel And Chromite


  • Copper is the first metal to be ever used by humans
  • Copper is one of the few metals that occur in nature in a usable metallic form (native metals) as opposed to needing extraction from an ore.
  • It is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity
  • Copper is an important alloying element for the production of brass and bronze both of which have great demand in utensils market.
  • The electrical conductivity of copper makes it the first choice in electrical industries
  • Copper is an important non-ferrous base metal having wide industrial applications, ranging from defence, space programme, railways, power cables, mint, telecommunication cables, etc.

Mining and Extraction of Copper

  • Copper occurs in nature as sulfide minerals; it is present in a highly disseminated form in its ore. Chalcopyrite is the most important ore of copper.
  • Copper is extracted from the sulfide ore by process of smelting followed by electrolysis.

Copper is one of the most recycled metal. The recycling of copper scrap is gaining importance worldwide simply because of the fact that recovery of copper metal from scrap requires much less energy than its recovery made from primary source. Besides, it enables conservation of natural resources. In Indian condition, however, collection of scrap is in the Unorganised Sector and there is paucity of factual data in this regard.

Distribution of Copper in The World

In the Earth s crust, the copper content is about 0.01%. Only in a few copper deposits, copper content is found at up to 3%-5%. Copper in nature often exists in compounds. The world reserves of copper metal are assessed at 720 million tonnes of copper content.

Chile has the largest share accounting for about 29.2% of world reserves followed by Australia (12.2%), Peru (11.4%), Mexico (6.4%), USA (4.6%) and China & Russia (4.2% each)

As per world mine production of copper, Chile was the largest single producer of copper in 2014 with 31.28% share followed by China (8.9%), Peru (7.5%), USA (7.4%) and Australia (5.3%). Other major producers in the world include Russia, Poland, Canada, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, and Zambia.

Chile: Chile is the largest producer of copper in the world. It produces more than 32 per cent of the world copper and its average annual production is 55 million metric tons. In Chile most of the copper mines are located on the western side of the Andes with main site located in Chuquicamata.

China: China was the second largest producer of copper in 2014 with world share of 8.9 % in production. Also China was the largest producer of refined copper with 7.96 million tonnes in the year 2014 (34.7% of world production). The significant increase in refined copper production in China correlated with a reported increase in smelting and refining capacity.

Peru: The third largest producer of copper in the world is Peru. It produces 7.5 percent copper of the world. The important copper mines in Peru are located at Cerro de Pasco, Morococha, Casapalca and Toquepala.

(Note: In 2016 ranking Peru has beaten China to become the second largest producer of Copper)

USA: USA is the fourth largest producer of Copper. It produces 7.4 percent copper of the world. In the United States, copper is produced primarily in Arizona. Other copper producing states include New Mexico (El Chino Mine), Montana, Nevada and Utah (Bingham Canyon Mine).

Australia: Australia is the world's fifth largest producer of copper ore and accounted for 5.3 % of world production in 2014. Some of the prominent copper producing areas in Australia include Queensland, Kanmantoo in South Australia and Boddington in Western Australia etc.

Copper Deposits in India

India is not self-sufficient in the production of copper ore. In addition to domestic production of ore and concentrates, India imports copper concentrates for its smelters. The domestic demand of copper and its alloys is met through domestic production, recycling of scrap and by imports.

The largest resources confine in the state of

  1. Rajasthan (53.55 %) followed by
  2. Jharkhand (19.59 %) and
  3. Madhya Pradesh (19.04 %)
  4. Copper resources in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand and West Bengal accounted for remaining 7.82% of the total all India resources

The Copper deposits mainly occur in Singhbhum district in Jharkhand, Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh and Jhunjhunu and Alwar districts in Rajasthan. Minor producers of Copper are Agnigundala in Guntur District (Andhra Pradesh), Chitradurg and Hasan districts (Karnataka) and South Arcot district (Tamil Nadu).

Malanjkhand Copper Project (Malanjkhand in Madhya Pradesh) is the largest copper ore producing mine with 2.0 million tonnes production capacity per year. Khetri Copper Complex (Khetrinagar in Rajasthan) and Indian Copper Complex (Ghatsila in Jharkhand) have production capacities 1.1 and 0.4 million tonnes per annum, respectively.


  • Nickel is a lustrous, silvery-white metal having a high melting point.
  • It exhibits high resistance to corrosion and oxidation, excellent strength and toughness at high temperatures
  • Nickel is capable of being magnetised and readily alloys with many other metals.
  • When added in small quantity to iron, increases its properties manifold and makes the product hard and stainless.
  • Owing to these qualities, nickel is used in number of products for consumer, industrial, military, aerospace, marine and architectural applications.
  • Nickel has also been widely used in coins

Distribution of Nickel in The World

The world reserves of nickel are estimated at 79 million tonnes of metal content. Australia (24%), Brazil (13%), New Caledonia (11%), Russia (10%), Cuba (7%), Indonesia (6%) and South Africa (5%), Canada & China (4% each) together accounted for around 84% nickel reserves. Major Nickel reserves throught the world are mentioned as below:-

Laterite-nickel ore: New Caledonia in the south Pacific Ocean; Moluccas and Sulawesi in Indonesia; Palawan in the Philippines; Queensland in Australia; Minas Gerais and Goias in Brazil; Oriente in Cuba; Banan in Dominica; the Central Euboea area, Neo Kokkino area of Viotia, and Kastoria area in Greece; and some other areas in Russia and Albania, etc.

Nickel sulphide ore: Jinchuan, Gansu Province and Panshi, Jilin Province in China; Sudbury, Ontario Province and Lynn Lake-Thompson, Manitoba Province in Canada; Kola Peninsula and Norilsk, Siberia, in Russia; Kambalda in Australia; Selebi Phikwe in Botswana; Kotalahti in Finland.

Major nickel producing countries: Indonesia, Russia, China, Canada, Cuba, Australia, Philippines, New Caledonia.

Identified land-based resources throughout the world averaging 1% nickel or greater comprise at least 130 million tons of nickel (about the double of known reserves). About 60% is in laterites and 40% in sulfide deposits.. In addition, extensive deep-sea resources of nickel are in manganese crusts and nodules, covering large areas of the ocean floor, particularly in the Pacific Ocean.

Nickel Deposits in India

The total resources of nickel ore have been estimated at 189 million tonnes. The distribution of Nickel in the states in descending order is given below:

  1. Odisha has about 92% resources; i.e., 175 million tones. The remaining 8% resources are distributed in
  2. Jharkhand (9 million tonnes)
  3. Nagaland (5 million tonnes)
  4. Karnataka (0.23 million tonnes) has only nominal resources

Nickel is not produced from primary sources in the country and the entire demand is met through imports. However, it is being recovered as nickel sulphate crystals, a by-product obtained during copper production.

  • Nickel occurs principally as oxides, sulphides and silicates in India.
  • Important occurrence is nickeliferous limonite in the overburden of chromite in Sukinda Valley, Jeypore district, Odisha, where it occurs as oxide. A suitable process is being developed for its utilisation.
  • Nickel also occurs in sulphide form along with copper mineralisation in East Singhbhum district, Jharkhand. In addition, it is found associated with uranium deposits at Jaduguda, Jharkhand
  • Other reported occurrences of nickel are from Karnataka, Kerala and Rajasthan.
  • Polymetallic sea nodules are another source of nickel.


  • Chromite (Cr) is the single commercially viable ore of chromium which is chemically known as iron chromium oxide
  • It is a steel-grey, lustrous, hard and brittle metal which takes a high polish, resists tarnishing and has a high melting point.
  • The properties of chromium that makes it most versatile and indespensable are its resistance to corrosion, oxidation and wear.
  • Chromium is an important alloying metal. It is used in the manufacture of alloys along with other metals, such as nickel, cobalt, copper etc.
  • Chromium imparts additional strength, hardness and toughness to its alloys.

Distribution of Chromite in The World

Countries that possess sizeable quantities of resources are Kazakhstan (47%), South Africa (41%) and India (11%). As we can see, Kazakhstan and South Africa concentrated about 90% of world's 480 million tonnes chromium.

South Africa is by far the largest producer of chromite ore and concentrates followed by Kazakhstan, Turkey and India. Russia, Oman Brazil and Pakistan are other important producers. In Europe, Finland and Albania are the major producing countries.

Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan hosts the world s largest reserves of chromite, the majority of which are located in the Kempirsai Massif district, in the west of the country.

South Africa: South Africa is another major country in terms of Chromium resource. It is also a leading producer of chromium ore. The chromite-ore resources in South Africa are situated mainly within the Bushveld Complex in the Transvaal region.

Finland: Finland was the sole producer of chromite ore in the European Union. Akanvaara and Koitelainen chromite projects in northeastern Finland are the major chromite producing areas.

Chromite Deposits in India

The total resources of chromite in the country as on April 2013 were estimated at 322 million tonnes with 107 million tonnes as Reserves (33%) and 215 million tonnes as Remaining Resources (67%).

More than 95% resources of chromite are located in Odisha, mostly in Jajpur, Kendujhar and Dhenkanal districts. Minor deposits are scattered over Manipur, Nagaland, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

At present, mining operations for chromite are restricted only in the Sukinda ultramafic belt and in the Baula Nausahi chromite belt in Odisha and in Hassan district of Karnataka.

The ore extracted from Kathpal mine and from all the mines in the Baula Nausahi belt is hard and massive. In all other mines, the ore occurs as friable and powdery.

The major problems associated with chromite mining are the pollution and degradation caused to the environment. The hexavalent chromium, especially in friable ore is the major cause of concern as it is carcinogenic in nature. The inhalation of chromium compounds has been associated with the development of cancer in workers in the Chromite Industry.

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