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Distribution of Key Natural Resources Across the World

Distribution of key natural resources

In our world, the distribution of vital natural resources varies a lot, thanks to factors like where things are found, the lay of the land, and the climate. These resources play a big role in how well a place develops, how it takes care of the environment, and what kind of relationships it has with other places. Resources are basically anything around us that we can use to meet our needs, as long as we can get to it, it makes sense economically, and people are cool with using it. This covers all sorts of things that are super important for business and industry, things that look good, stuff that sparks our scientific curiosity, and anything that holds cultural value.

Natural Resources

Resources that are drawn from Nature and used without much modification are called Natural Resources. The air we breathe, the water in our rivers and lakes, the soils, and the minerals are all natural resources. Many of these resources are gifts of nature and can be used directly.

  • Renewable resources, such as solar and wind energy, quickly renew or replenish and remain unaffected by human activities, being unlimited.
  • Non-renewable resources have a limited stock, and once exhausted, their renewal or replenishment may take thousands of years. Examples include minerals like coal, petroleum, and natural gas.

Renewable Resources:

Water: Freshwater from rivers, lakes, and underground aquifers is essential for drinking, agriculture, industry, and hydropower generation.

Air: While not traditionally considered a natural resource, clean air is crucial for human health, agriculture, and industrial processes.

Soil: Fertile soil is vital for agriculture and supports the growth of crops and forests.

Biomass: Biomass resources, such as plants, trees, and organic matter, serve for energy production, including wood, crop residues, and biofuels.

Wind Energy: Wind turbines harness wind to generate electricity, offering a renewable energy source.

Solar Energy: Solar panels capture energy from the sun to generate electricity and heat for various applications.

Geothermal Energy: Geothermal resources utilize heat from the Earth’s interior for electricity generation and heating.

Tidal and Wave Energy: These renewable resources harness the movement of tides and ocean waves to generate electricity.

    Non-Renewable Resources:

    Fossil Fuels: Industries burn coal, oil, and natural gas for electricity generation, transportation, and industrial processes.

    Minerals and Metals: These resources encompass a wide range of elements, including iron ore, copper, gold, and rare earth metals, used in manufacturing, construction, and electronics.

    Non-Metallic Minerals: This category includes resources like limestone, gypsum, and salt, used in construction, agriculture, and industry.

    Nuclear Fuels: Nuclear reactors use uranium and thorium to generate electricity.

    Fossil Water: Non-renewable groundwater resources can become depleted if over-extracted.

    Fossilized Carbon: In some regions, people use peat, a precursor to coal, as a type of fossilized carbon for heating and cooking.

    Phosphates: Phosphate rock is the source for phosphates used in agriculture for fertilizers.

    Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs): These resources, such as ethane, propane, and butane, serve as feedstocks in petrochemical industries.

    Rare Earth Elements: These are essential for various technologies, including electronics and renewable energy systems.

    Distribution of Key Natural Resources

    Here’s an overview of the distribution of some of the essential natural resources, including their presence in South Asia and the Indian subcontinent:

    Minerals and Metals

    A mineral is a natural substance of organic or inorganic origin with definite chemical and physical properties.

    Iron Ore: Many of the world’s major iron ore deposits can be found in places like Australia, Brazil, and Russia. India is also a notable contributor to global iron ore production.

    Bauxite: The key ingredient for aluminum production, bauxite, is abundant in countries like Guinea, Australia, and Brazil. India, too, holds substantial reserves of this crucial resource.

    Copper: Countries with significant copper deposits include Chile, Peru, and the United States. India is also fortunate to have its own copper resources.

    Gold: China, Russia, and Australia are leading the world in gold production. While there is a substantial demand for gold in India, the country has comparatively limited domestic production of it.

    Diamonds: Countries such as Russia, Botswana, and Canada concentrate valuable diamond reserves. These nations play a significant role in meeting the global demand for diamonds.

    Based on chemical and physical properties, minerals may be grouped under two main categories metallics and non-metallics which may further be classified as follows : The following are the metallic minerals.

    • Iron ore serves as the primary source for the global iron and steel industry, crucial for maintaining a robust industrial foundation.
    • Steelmaking utilizes 98 percent of mined iron ore, making it a cornerstone in various manufacturing processes.
    • Approximately 50 countries engage in iron mining globally.
    • Regions such as North America, Russia, the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa, China, and India host major iron ore reserves, totaling 3,20,000 million tonnes.
    • Notable iron mining regions include China (Manchuria, Sinkiang, Shandong, Si-kiang, Anshan), Africa (Transvaal, Liberia, Morocco), Kazakhstan, Russia (Ural region & Magnitogorsk), Europe (Ruhr, Normandy, Lorraine, South Wales), Australia (Koolyanobbing, Iron Duke, Iron Knob), North America (Great Lakes, Labrador, St. Lawrence, Nevada, Wyoming), and South America (Carajas, Itabira, Minas Geriais).
    • In India, states such as Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana concentrate around 95% of the iron ore reserves.
    • Copper, occurring often in a pure state, was among the earliest metals used by humans.
    • Indispensable in the electrical industry for manufacturing wires, motors, transformers, and generators due to its malleability and ductility.
    • Chile leads global copper production with 27%, housing two of the world’s largest mines, Escondido and Collahuasi.
    • Peru follows with 10% of global output.
    • In India, significant copper reserves are found in Singhbhum (Jharkhand), Balaghat (Madhya Pradesh), Jhunjhunu, and Alwar (Rajasthan).
    Energy Resources/Fossil Fuels:
    • Minerals and energy resources are vital for economic and industrial growth, improving living standards.
    • Major coal reserves are found in the United States, Russia, China, and India, particularly in Jharkhand, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh.
    • Oil reserves are concentrated in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq), North America, and Russia, with India heavily reliant on imports.
    • Natural gas reserves are found in regions like Russia, Iran, Qatar, and the United States, with South Asia having reserves in India and Bangladesh.
    • Coal, essential for thermal power generation and iron ore smelting, exhibits the most uneven distribution among minerals.
    • Major coal reserves are located in China, the USA, Canada, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Russia.
    • In India, coal is present in Bokaro, Jharia, Karanpur, Korba, Neyveli, Raniganj, Singreni, Singrauli, and Talcher.
    Crude Oil and Petroleum:
    • Petroleum, a highly efficient energy source, is essential for internal combustion engines and various petrochemical products.
    • Major oil fields are located in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia, with notable regions being Canada, the USA, Brazil, Russia, and the Middle East.
    • India’s crude petroleum reserves are in Assam (Digboi, Naharkatiya, Moran), Gujarat (Ankleshwar, Kalol, Mehsana, Nawagam, Kosamba, Lunej), and offshore locations like Mumbai, Krishna-Godavari, and Kaveri basins.
    Natural Gas:
    • Natural gas, released during crude oil extraction, serves various purposes in domestic use, power generation, and industrial processes.
    • Russia holds the largest deposits of natural gas globally.
    • Significant natural gas-producing centers are spread across North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia, with notable regions in the USA, Venezuela, Netherlands, Russia, Algeria, and India.
    • India’s natural gas reserves are located in Bombay High, Krishna-Godavari Basin, Rawa (Andhra coast), Gujarat Coast, Tanot (Rajasthan), and Tripura.

    Nuclear Energy Resources

    In recent years, nuclear energy has shown to be a reliable source. Uranium and thorium are significant minerals utilized in the production of nuclear energy.

    Uranium Resources:

    Australia: Australia boasts the world’s largest known uranium reserves, making a significant contribution to the global uranium supply. The primary deposits are situated in South Australia and the Northern Territory, marking the country as a key player in uranium resources.

    Kazakhstan: Renowned as one of the leading uranium producers globally, Kazakhstan holds substantial uranium reserves, particularly in its southern regions. The nation’s robust presence in the uranium market is a result of these extensive deposits.

    Canada: Canada stands as a significant hub for uranium resources, with major deposits concentrated in Saskatchewan. The thriving uranium mining industry in this region plays a crucial role in contributing to Canada’s prominence in the global uranium market.

    Niger: Positioned as another crucial player in the uranium sector, Niger is a noteworthy uranium producer. The country’s uranium deposits are strategically located in the northern part, solidifying its role in the global uranium supply chain.

    Namibia: Namibia boasts considerable uranium deposits in the Erongo Region, establishing itself as a notable exporter in the uranium market. The country’s presence contributes to the diversity of global uranium sources.

    Thorium Resources:

    India: India holds substantial thorium reserves, presenting a promising potential for nuclear fuel in advanced thorium-based reactors. The state of Kerala, in particular, is rich in thorium deposits, positioning India as a key player in thorium resources.

    Norway: Norway possesses significant thorium resources, primarily in the form of monazite, a mineral containing thorium. Although commercial thorium mining is limited, Norway’s thorium reserves contribute to the global pool of this valuable resource.

    United States: While the United States does have thorium deposits, they are not as extensive as those in some other countries. Despite this, the U.S. remains a player in the thorium landscape, albeit with a lesser prominence compared to some other nations.

    Renewable Energy Resources

    Solar Energy: Regions close to the equator, including parts of South Asia, have abundant solar energy resources. India has been actively harnessing solar energy through solar power projects.

    Wind Energy: Wind energy potential is significant in regions like the United States, China, and India. India has made substantial investments in wind energy.

    Hydropower: Electricity produced from hydropower is known as hydroelectricity or hydroelectric power (water power). In 2020, approximately 4500 TWh, or one-sixth of the world’s electricity, was generated by hydropower, surpassing both nuclear and all other renewable energy sources.


    North America: The Great Lakes Region, Niagara Falls, Appalachian Region, and Northwest Region of the USA are key areas for hydropower projects. Notable sites include Niagara Falls.

    Europe: Hydropower is harnessed in Norway, Sweden, France (Central Massif and Pyrenees Alps), and Russia. Russian projects include the Dnieper Combine Scheme, Kuybyshev Dams, Krasnoyarsk Dam, and Kama Project.

    Africa: Significant hydropower locations include the Kariba Dam in Zambia, Owen Project in Uganda, Aswan Dam in Egypt, and Sennar Dam in Sudan.Australia:New South Wales and Victoria are regions with notable hydropower projects.

    Asia: In China, major projects like the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River contribute significantly. India has projects such as the Damodar Valley Project, Bhakra-Nangal Project, Hirakud Project, Nagarjuna Sagar Project, Mettur Project, and Idukki Project.

    Wind Energy:

    North America: The USA has key wind energy areas in Iowa, Texas, California, and Oklahoma.Canada’s provinces like Alberta and British Columbia also contribute.

    South America: Brazil (Piauí), Chile (Antofagasta), and Uruguay (Tacuarembó, Maldonado) are prominent in wind energy.

    Europe: Leading European producers include Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Italy, and Sweden.

    Africa: South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt have significant wind farms.

    Australia: Wind farms in Victoria and New South Wales are notable contributors.

    India: Wind energy thrives in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka.

    Solar Power:

    Solar PV generation surpassed 1000 TWh globally in 2021, showing significant growth. It is becoming the most affordable alternative for new power generation worldwide.

    North America: Canada’s Ontario and Alberta, and the USA’s California, Arizona, and Nevada have notable solar projects.

    South America: Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay have embraced solar power with projects like Usina São Gonçalo, Cauchari, and La Jacinta.

    Europe: Germany, Austria, Spain, and the UK lead in solar energy with projects in various regions.

    Africa: South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, and Kenya have notable solar projects.

    Australia: Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland are prominent in solar power generation.

    Asia: China, Egypt, UAE, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia have significant solar projects.

    India: India stands out in Asia with solar parks like Bhadla Solar Park, Pavagada Solar Park, NP Kunta and Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, and Rewa Ultra Mega Solar.

    Other Natural Resources

    Water resources, agricultural resources, and forests are integral components of the Earth’s ecosystems, and their sustainable management is crucial for human well-being and environmental balance.

    Water Resources:

    The availability of freshwater varies globally, influencing the livelihoods of millions. Regions like the Amazon Basin have abundant water, while arid regions like the Middle East face water scarcity challenges. Sustainable water management practices, including efficient irrigation techniques and water conservation, are vital to address these disparities.

    Major rivers like the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Indus in the Indian subcontinent play a pivotal role in supporting agriculture through irrigation and facilitating transportation. however, over-extraction and pollution threaten the health of these rivers, emphasizing the need for sustainable water use practices.

    Agricultural Resources:

    Countries with extensive arable land, such as the United States, Russia, and China, have a significant impact on global food production. Sustainable agricultural practices, including precision farming and organic methods, are essential to preserve soil fertility and minimize environmental degradation.

    Different regions specialize in growing specific crops based on climate and soil conditions. South Asia’s emphasis on rice and wheat cultivation is an example. Crop diversity supports food security and helps adapt to changing environmental conditions.


    Forests are vital for biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration, and providing ecosystem services. Countries like Russia, Brazil, and Canada host vast forested areas, while South Asian countries showcase diverse forest ecosystems. Sustainable forestry practices, including reforestation and protection of endangered species, are essential for long-term environmental health.

    Forests contribute to the global economy through the production of timber and non-timber products. Sustainable forestry practices, certification systems, and responsible harvesting are critical to prevent deforestation and ensure the long-term viability of forest resources.

    Overall Sustainability:

    The wise management of natural resources supports economic development by providing raw materials, food, and water. However, unchecked exploitation can lead to resource depletion, negatively impacting economies.

    Sustainable practices are crucial for maintaining the health of ecosystems and preventing environmental degradation. Deforestation, over-extraction of water, and unsustainable agricultural practices can lead to habitat loss, soil erosion, and climate change.

    Access to clean water, food security, and a healthy environment are fundamental to human well-being. Sustainable resource management ensures that these basic needs are met for current and future generations.


    In conclusion, a holistic and sustainable approach to managing water resources, agricultural practices, and forests is essential for promoting global well-being, economic stability, and environmental health. International cooperation and local initiatives are necessary to address the challenges associated with resource distribution and usage.

    Read Also: India’s Three-Stage Nuclear Power Programme

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