In India, the minerals are classified as minor minerals and major minerals.
According to section 3(e) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 “Minor Minerals” means building stones, gravel, ordinary clay, ordinary sand other than sand used for prescribed purposes, and any other mineral which the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be a minor mineral. (For the purposes of this Act, the word "minerals” includes all minerals except mineral oils- natural gas and petroleum)
Major minerals are those specified in the first schedule appended in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act 1957) and the common major minerals are Lignite, Coal, Uranium, iron ore, gold etc. It may be noted that there is no official definition for “major minerals” in the MMDR Act. Hence, whatever is not declared as a “minor mineral” may be treated as the major mineral.
The major-minor classification has nothing to do with the quantum /availability of these minerals, though it is correlated with the relative value of these minerals. Further, this classification is based more on their end use, rather than level of production, level of mechanization, export and import etc. (eg. Sand can be a major mineral or a minor mineral depending on where it is used; same is the case for limestone.)
India produces as many as 88 minerals which include 4 fuel minerals, 3 atomic minerals, 26 metallic & non-metallic minerals and 55 minor minerals (including building and other materials and the recently notified 31 additional minerals).
The central government has the power to notify “minor minerals” under section 3 (e) of the MMDR Act, 1957. On the other hand, as per Section 15 of the MMDR Act, 1957 State Governments have complete powers for making Rules for grant of concessions in respect of extraction of minor minerals and levy and collection of royalty on minor minerals.
In addition to the minor minerals specified in Section 3(e) of the MMDR Act, the Central Government has declared the following minerals as minor minerals:
- chalcedony pebbles used for ball mill purposes only,
- lime shell, kankar and limestone used in kilns for manufacture of lime used as building material,
- fuller’s earth,
- road metal,
- slate and shale when used for building material,
- stone used for making household utensils,
- quartzite and sandstone when used for purposes of building or for making road metal and household utensils,
- saltpeter and
- ordinary earth (used or filling or leveling purposes in construction or embankments, roads, railways, building).
Further, Ministry of Mines, on 10 February 2015, notified 31 additional minerals, hitherto under the list of major minerals, as minor minerals. These 31 minerals account for over 55% of the total number of leases and nearly 60% of total leased area. This was done with the intention to “devolve more power to the States, and consequently, expedite the process of mineral development in the country”. The 31 additional minerals notified as minor minerals are:
- Ball Clay;
- Calcareous Sand;
- China Clay;
- Clay (Others);
- Fuschite Quartzite;
- Sand (Others);
- Silica Sand;
The power to frame policy and legislation relating to minor minerals is entirely delegated to the State Governments while policy and legislation relating to the major minerals are dealt by the Ministry of Mines under Union /Central Government. Various State Governments have indeed prescribed rules for the grant of mineral concessions in respect of minerals classified as minor minerals under the MMDR Act, 1957. Minor Minerals get specified in the schedule appended in Minor Mineral concession Rules issued by States.
Thus, as opposed to major minerals, the regulatory and administrative jurisdiction of minor minerals falls under the purview of State governments. These include the powers to frame rules, prescribe rates of royalty, contribution to District Mineral Foundation, the procedure for grant of mineral concessions, regulation of their mining, control of illegal mining etc.
In the case of major minerals, States substantially regulate and develop minerals subject to provisions of the MMDR Act, and after prior permissions from the central government.The value of production of minor minerals was estimated at Rs. 52,490 crore in 2013-14. Andhra Pradesh, with share of 23.5% in the value of minor minerals produced in the country, occupied the top position. Gujarat was at second place with a share of 23.0% in the value of minor minerals. Next in the order were Maharashtra 14.6%, Rajasthan 12.9%, Uttar Pradesh 7.6%, Kerala 5.9%, Karnataka 3.9%, Madhya Pradesh 3.7% and Goa 1.6%. The contribution of remaining states and Union Territories was less than one percent each.</p>
- Press Release of Ministry of Mines dated 5 February 2015
- e-book of Ministry of Mines – for status of exploration production etc.
- Environmental aspects of quarrying of minor minerals – Evolving of Model Guidelines, dated 16 May 2011
- Mines & Minerals(Development & Regulation) Act,1957 (As amended up to 10 May, 2012)
- Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 (As amended up to 26 July, 2012)