Manufacturing industries that use minerals as raw material are called mineral-based industries. The iron and steel industry is the basic industry on which all other industries depend. The production and per capita consumption of steel is a measure of a country’s economic development.
The main raw materials used in the iron and steel industry are iron ore, coal and limestone. The raw materials and finished products of iron and steel industries are quite bulky, these industries must be located near the mining areas of the required minerals and must be connected by a good transport network.
India is the ninth largest producer of crude steel and the largest producer of sponge iron in the world. India is also a leading exporter of steel in the world.
The per capita consumption of steel in India is only 32 kilograms. There are 10 primary integrated steel plants in India. These integrated plants handle all stages of steel production, from procurement of basic raw material to producing finished rolled and shaped steel. India has many mini steel plants that produce customised alloy steel using scrap iron or sponge iron as raw material.
China has become the world’s largest producer and consumer of steel, leaving India far behind. Most steel manufacturing industries are located in the Chhota Nagpur Plateau region because of the availability of inexpensive, high-grade raw material and abundant cheap labour. The main challenges faced by the industry in realising its full potential are limited supply of expensive coking coal, erratic power supply, low output of labour and poor infrastructure. The future of India’s iron and steel industry is bright due to India’s liberalisation policy and foreign direct investment in the industry.
Aluminium is a lightweight, corrosion-resistant metal with excellent malleability and ductility. Aluminium is a good conductor of heat and electricity, and can be alloyed with other metals to make it stronger. Aluminium is increasingly being used as a substitute for steel, copper, zinc and lead in several industries. The process of deriving metallic aluminium from its ore is called aluminium smelting. Aluminium smelting is the second most important metallurgical industry in India.
Bauxite is the chief ore of aluminium. Bauxite is refined to produce alumina, which is smelted to derive metallic aluminium.
India has 8 aluminium smelting plants located in Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. The production of aluminium requires the transport of bulky raw materials and large amounts of electricity, assured supply of power and good transport connectivity are the main criteria for the location of an aluminium smelting plant. The Indian chemical industry is the third largest in Asia and the 12th largest in the world. The Indian chemical industry contributes 3% to our national GDP.
The main inorganic chemicals produced in India include sulphuric acid, nitric acid, alkalis, soda ash and caustic soda. Sulphuric acid is used in the production of fertilisers, plastics, synthetic fibres, adhesives, paints and dyes. Soda ash is used in manufacturing soap, glass, detergents and paper. Petrochemicals are materials derived as the by-products of petroleum refining. Petrochemicals are used to manufacture synthetic fibre, synthetic rubber, dyes and paints, fertilisers, adhesives and medicinal drugs.