Distribution of Gold And Silver: India & World
- Gold is a naturally occurring, reddish-yellow, malleable metal with poor reactivity with other minerals
- It is a precious metal with very high economic value.
- One of the important uses of gold today is as a currency reserve. It is also an internationally accepted money or currency
- It has evolved as a form of investment too
- On account of its volatility in terms of price, gold has the ability to tilt the individual s or nations economic fortunes.
- Gold occurs in association with ores of copper and lead, in quartz veins, in alluvial deposits, and with pyrites (iron sulfide).
- Seawater contains astonishing quantities of gold, but the process of recovery is not economical.
- Gold has several industrial uses such as medicine, electronics etc. but it is better known for their use in jewellery.
- Gold is obtained by two principal mining methods; placer and vein mining, and also as a by-product of the other mining processes.
- The density of Gold is high and this property of gold is used to separate it from unconsolidated deposits of sand and gravel. This method is used when gold occurs as a placer deposit.
- A vein is a distinct sheet-like body of crystallized minerals within a rock. Veins form when mineral constituents carried by an aqueous solution within the rock mass are deposited through precipitation.
Gold Deposits in The World
The global geological reserves of gold (metal content) have been placed at 51,000 tonnes, of which 14% are located in Australia, 12% in South Africa, 10% Russia, 6% in USA and Indonesia each, 3.9% in Peru, 3.7% in China and 3.3% in Uzbekistan. The reserve base (reserves and resources) is estimated at 1 lakh tonnes world over after the intensive exploration efforts, of which South Africa contains 31% share followed by Russia, Australia, Indonesia, China and Others.
It is noteworthy that China has been steadily increasing its gold production, whereas south Africa is showing a decreasing trend.
Gold Deposits in India
In India, the total resources of gold ore are estimated at 494 million tonnes, of which 24 million tonnes only are placed in reserve category and remaining 470 million tonnes under resource category. The total resource in terms of metal (primary gold) is at 659.84 tonnes.
By states, largest resources in terms of gold ore (primary) are located in
- Bihar (45%)
- Rajasthan (23%)
- Karnataka (22%)
- West Bengal (3%)
- Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh (2% each)
- The remaining 3% resources of ore are located in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
In terms of metal content,
- Andhra Pradesh
- Jharkhand etc.
The identified prospects (33) are small deposits with a low treasure of ore are as given below:
Karnataka (22): Kempinkote, Manighatta, South Kolar cluster mines, KGF west reefs, Hanni Ajjampur, Karajgi, Chinmulgund, Ganajur, Kuluvalli, Bhavihal, Mangalgatti, Lakkikoppa, Hiriyur, Hosur-Champion, Yelisirur, Hirenagur, Buddini Maski, Kadoni, Uti South-West, Hutti North-Prospect, Jainapur, Wandalli and Surapalli
Andhra Pradesh (5): Bhadrampaile, Ramapura, Venkatampalli, Chinnabhari and Jibutil
Madhya Pradesh (1): Gurharpahar Sankorwa
Chhattisgarh (3): Sonakhan, Sonadehi and Pathalgaon cluster
Jharkhand (2): Parasi and Lawa
Currently, India has only three producing gold mines Hutti, Utti mines (both in Karnataka) and Hirabuddini mines (Jharkhand) and the domestic production has almost stagnated at about 2.8 tonnes annually.
Karnataka has an estimated 17 to 18 tonnes of gold reserves and the state is the major gold producer state in India i.e 88.7% of total gold production in India.
After the closure of Kolar Gold Fields Mines of BGML in 2001, the Hutti Gold Mines Limited (HGML), a government of Karnataka enterprise has become the sole producer of primary gold in the country.
The main problem with the Hutti mines is the low grade of ore. The mine reopened in 1948 and has been operating irregularly since then. The principal mine, Hutti and two other units viz Hira Buddini and Utti are all underground mines located in Raichur district of Karnataka.
Issue and Way Forward
- Demand for gold in India outstrips supply; the gap being met through imports. This scenario will continue as high prices have hardly been a deterrent.
- The highest demand for gold in the world is from India.
- So imports of gold in significant quantities will continue unless there is higher production in India and it will require more reserves to be explored and established.
- The production of gold in the country has actually reduced in the last decade
- India is characterized by a number of small gold occurrences and there is no deposit of substantial size and grade discovered so far
The government needs to expeditiously grant prospecting licenses and create a favourable environment for exploration. Amendment to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 (MMDR), which allowed private companies to bid for mining leases via a competitive auction process, is a step in right direction and has potential to boost gold production in the country.
- Silver is also a precious metal that is used in India for religious ceremonies, festivals, weddings and many other cultural events.
- Silver is the next most important precious metal in India
- Silver is also used as a form of savings and investment in India.
- Silver is mined as a mixture in ores along with other metals such as copper, gold, lead, zinc, sulphur, antimony, arsenic or chlorine.
- Silver on account of its physical properties is now being increasingly used in industrial applications (55%) followed by jewellery (19%) and coins/metals (12%).
Silver Deposits in The World
Exclusive silver mining forms a paltry 20% of overall silver production, with the main demand arising from industrial needs.
Mexico is the world leader in terms of silver production from mines, followed by countries such as Peru, Australia, China, Chile, Bolivia, USA and Russia among others.
Since the 1980 s, silver production has been outpaced by consumption giving rise to rates over the years.
Silver Deposits in India
India is not a major producer of silver. Most of the silver consumption in India is driven by imports. It occurs generally with lead, zinc, copper and gold ores and is extracted as a byproduct of electrolysis or chemical methods. The chief ore minerals of silver are Argentine, stephanite, pyrargyrite and proustite.
By states, largest resources in terms of silver ore are located in
- Rajasthan accounts (87%)
- Jharkhand (5%)
- Andhra Pradesh (4%)
- Karnataka (2%).
In terms of production, following states are the top producer of silvers in the country
- Andhra Pradesh (42.43%)
- Bihar-Jharkhand (32.18%)
- Rajasthan (25.03%)
- Karnataka (0.36%).
In India, there are no native silver deposits except the small and unique Bherak deposits in Rajasthan. Zawar mines in Udaipur (Rajasthan) is the largest silver producing mine in the country. Here, silver is obtained as a by-product of the concentration and smelting of galena ore in Hindustan Zinc Smelter.
The Tundoo Lead Smelter in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand is another important producer of silver as a byproduct of lead. Some silver is produced by Kolar Gold Fields and Hutti gold mines in Karnataka during refining of gold.
The Hindustan Copper Ltd. at Maubhandar smelter in Singhbhum district of Jharkhand obtains silver from copper slimes. Silver is also produced by Vizag Zinc smelter in Andhra Pradesh from the lead concentrates.
Issues and Way Forward
- According to an estimate, the demand for silver is expected to double mainly because of consumer preference for jewellery and as an investment avenue during next 5 to 10 years.
- As the demand-supply gap is primarily met from imports, India s reliance on world prices and fluctuations in international prices will remain.
- There is a need to develop indigenous expertise for recovering/recycling silver from large varieties of industrial waste being generated.
- Encouragement to copper producers to recover gold and silver as by-products from anode slimes indigenously by providing the necessary fiscal / taxation incentives regarding relaxing excise duty provision.