Context: The red-brown soil of the bauxite belt in southern Odisha’s Eastern Ghats is seeing an escalation of interest in mining, with the government auctioning sites to private companies processing it into Aluminum.
- Bauxite is a sedimentary rock with a relatively high aluminum content.
- Bauxite is basically an aluminous rock that contains hydrated aluminium oxide as main constituent and iron oxide, silica & titania as minor constituents present in varying proportions
- It is the world’s main source of aluminum and is typically found in tropical and subtropical regions
- India accounts for 6% of global production, with the largest producers being Australia, the Republic of Guinea, China and Brazil.
- Bauxite is the main source of the rare metal gallium.
- During the processing of bauxite to alumina in the Bayer process, gallium accumulates in the sodium hydroxide liquor.
Bauxite in India
- The country has 3,896 million tonnes of resources of bauxite which is sufficient to meet both domestic and export demands.
- By States, Odisha alone accounts for 51% of country’s resources of bauxite followed by Andhra Pradesh (16%), Gujarat (9%), Jharkhand (6%), Maharashtra (5%) and Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh (4% each)
- Odisha emerged as the leading producing State accounting for about 49% of the total production followed by Gujarat (24%), Jharkhand (9%), Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra (8% each). The remaining was produced by Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
- During 2016-17, exports of bauxite were 2,502 thousand tons. Exports of bauxite increased drastically to 8,914 thousand tonnes in 2015-16 from 6,808 thousand tonnes in 2014-15. Exports were mainly to China (96%), UAE (2%) and Kuwait (1%).