Mineral Resources of West Bengal
In this module, we shall learn about the Mineral Resources of West Bengal like Apatite, Asbestos, Barytes, Base Metals, China Clay, Coal, Dolomite, Fire Clay, Limestone, Silica Sand, Ochre, Glass Sand, Wolframite. Also, we shall learn about Minerals of lesser economic importance to West Bengal like Arsenopyrite, Beryl, Corundum, Fluorite, Gold, Graphite, Iron Ore, Manganese Ore, Mica, Talc and Steatite, and Titanium Ore.
This is the fifth topic under the West Bengal Geography Notes for WBCS Module. The links to the previous chapters are listed below:
- Introduction to West Bengal Geography
- Physiographic divisions of West Bengal
- Rivers of West Bengal
- Soil and Climate of West Bengal
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- The state of West Bengal has an important position in the mineral production of the country. In terms of value, the state accounts for 8% of mineral production in India and occupies the seventh position.
- Various metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits have been located both in the Peninsular and Extra-peninsular parts of the State and some of them viz. coal, china clay, fire clay, apatite, dolomite, limestone, silica sand, base metals, wolframite have economic importance.
Detailed accounts of the mineral resources are as follows:
- The apatite-magnetite mineralization occurs in the southern part of the Purulia district.
- Apatite deposit is being exploited by the West Bengal Mineral Development and Trading Corporation Ltd. (WBMDTCL) since 1975 and marketed as a direct application in the fertilizer industry.
- Discontinuous and irregular veins of asbestos occur along the shear planes and diagonal joints within meta-dolerites, especially along with their contacts with the schists and phyllites of the Singhbhum Group around Birmadal and Chirugora areas of Medinipur District.
- Baryte veins occur persistently along a 12 Km. long E-W trending belt in Purulia district extending from Malthal in the East to Ukma in the West.
- Occurrences of base metals are reported from Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, and Purulia
- The most important base metal deposits for lead and zinc in the Himalayan terrain near Gorubathan, Darjeeling district are reported from Khar Khola, Mal Khola, Daling Chu, and Sukha Khola blocks.
- Extensive deposits of clay have been located in the different parts of Birbhum, Bankura, Medinipur, and Purulia.
- It is well known that the Raniganj coalfield of West Bengal holds the earliest known coalfield of the country.
- During the last 10-12 years, the Birbhum coalfield has been discovered.
- Besides these two large coalfields, there are a few minor coalfields and outliers of coal-bearing rocks, like Darjeeling, Barjora, Hetampur, and Tangsuli.
- Except for Barjora which holds some promise, others are of academic interest at present.
- To date, Raniganj coalfield is the only coal-producing area of the state.
- Coals in the Indian peninsular coalfields are contained in the Lower Gondwana Group of sediments where two formations are known to be coal-bearing.
- Of these, the Barakar Formation is the major repository of coal, while the younger, Raniganj Formation is a minor contributor.
- In Raniganj coalfields, however, Raniganj Formation holds a larger share of the total coal reserves.
- Extensive deposits of dolomite occur in the Jainti area of Jalpaiguri
- However, the entire dolomite deposits are comprised within the Buxa Tiger Reserve.
- Due to the non-availability of forestry clearance, the exploitation of dolomite in the Jainti area is completely stopped at present.
- The Fireclay deposits are generally associated with the coal seams over a wide area in Raniganj coalfield of the Bardhaman district and in some areas of the coalfield of Birbhum district.
- Discontinuous bodies of Kyanite-quartz rocks are located in the district of Purulia.
- Geological Survey of India has carried out a preliminary investigation of the reported limestone occurrences in West Bengal since the late forties.
- The occurrences of limestone around Kudagara, Tutu Pahar, Subarnarekha river, Dankagarha Nala, Balamu, and Maramu areas of Purulia district
- Harirampur and Salaipahari areas of Bankura district were also investigated in detail by surface exploration.
- A huge reserve of sands is available from the beds of many rivers in the western and northern parts of the State.
- The sands of the Damodar and Ajoy rivers are in great demand for stowing in the coal mines of the Raniganj Coalfield.
- Occurrences of ochres, bluish grey, and yellow mottled clays are found in association with lateralized sandstones and grits of Durgapur beds in the eastern part of Raniganj coalfields in Bardhaman district.
- Ochre deposits are also found in Medinipur and Purulia districts.
- Good quality glass sands are rather scarce in the State. They are mostly impure, mixed with iron oxides, and suitable for colored glasses.
- In Bankura district, fairly large occurrences of quartzite of the Proterozoic are available which may be suitable for its utilization in the glass industry.
- In the Bardhaman district, occurrences of sandstone of the Gondwana Supergroup are reported from Mohanpur.
- The occurrences of Wolframite are located in the Chhendapathar and Porapahar areas of Bankura district.
- Occurrences of wolframite and scheelite have also been reported from the Manseng area of Darjeeling district.
Minerals of lesser economic importance
- An occurrence of Arsenopyrite has been recorded on the northern flank of Sampthar hill, Darjeeling district.
- Pale green hexagonal crystals of Beryl have been reported from Sulung Lohar and Belamu hill of Purulia district.
- Dark blue stumpy Corundum crystals, varying in size from a fraction of a centimeter to about 2.5 cm. in diameter are occurring within the mica-schist in Salbone, Paharpur, and Bhagabandh areas of Purulia district.
- The occurrences of Fluorites within pegmatites have been reported from Suling Lohar, east of Maramou, and the southern flank of Belamu hill of Purulia district.
- Show of placer gold is present in the streams/rivers flowing through the Proterozoic volcano-sedimentary pile of rocks in Purulia, Bankura, and Medinipur
- A vein of Graphite, about 1m in thickness occur within mica schist in Bangora, Purulia district.
- Another occurrence of graphite has been recorded near Gobag, Purulia district.
- The presence of graphite has been noted in the graphite schist of Daling Group in Rakti River and as carbonaceous material (main graphite) in Sukheapukh-Tanglu road, Darjeeling district.
- In the Purulia district, titaniferous Iron Ores occur in pegmatites and quartz veins around Manbazar, Gaurangdih, Tiluri, and Jhalda.
- In Bankura district, magnetite ore occurs as interlaminated bands within quartzite and gneisses, varying thickness from 7cm to 1m and extending for 24 km in length.
- Lateritoid Manganese occurs in the form of thin bands, lenses, lenticels, concretions, etc., and a variety of coliform structures in the schists and quartzites of Singhbhum Group.
- Occurrences of small books of Ruby Mica and also ordinary mica, varying in size from 2.5 sq. cm. to 20.5 sq. cm. have been reported from Adabana, Bhursa, Kumargarh in Purulia district and Kaduria, Pirrabani area of Bankura district.
- Occurrences of Pyrite is found with other sulfides within graphite bearing mica-schist of the Chhotanagpur Gneissic Complex in Karcha and Talmu areas of Purulia district.
Talc And Steatite
- In Darjeeling district, occurrences of Talc and Steatite are located at Ramouk Khola.
- Steatite has been reported from Lepachaks War Buxa in the Jalpaiguri district.
- A number of occurrences of steatite are reported from Khusbani, Puklunkata, and Haludbani in Purulia district and Matgoda, Maula Kuldiah, and Panchpathar in Bankura district.
- Ilmenite and Rutile bearing quartz and pegmatite veins have been found in a number of localities within a radius of about 10 km of Gaurangdih in Purulia district.
- Ilmenite also occurs in pegmatite and quartz veins near the Manbazar and Jhalda area of Purulia district.
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