The remarkable mineral wealth [This account of mineral wealth is based on the account given in the Chanda District Gazetteer of 1909.] of the district has so far been
exploited on a commercial scale in only one direction, namely,
the development of its coal deposits. The first traces of coal in this district were discovered in October 1865 when some pieces of carbonaceous shale were picked up in the bed of the Wardha river; these were followed up, and were found to have been washed from the Chanda bank of the river to the west of Ghugus. A pit was thereupon sunk in that village and coal was struck at a depth of 30 feet. The search for further deposits was vigorously prosecuted and outcrops were discovered at Ballalpur and Lathi. It was proved that the Ghugus seam was thicker and more constant than had at first been supposed.
Many indications pointed to the probable existence of coal to the north roundabout Warora within easy reach of the Hingan-ghat cotton market, and search was naturally directed towards
that locality when the desirability of abandoning the Mayo Colliery had become obvious. The work commenced actually in 1871. The Warora Colliery brought out a considerable amount of mineral wealth.
The existence of coal at Ballalpur was suspected as early as 1871; but the actual work of exploitation commenced in 1903. The actual output of coal remained insignificant until 1907, but work of opening out the mine received good encouragement through the opening of railway route in that year. Subsequen-ly the Ballalpur Collieries proved to be a valuable treasure of mineral wealth. The findings of the Geological Survey of India proved that the greatest store of coal in the district was to the east of Chanda town, but the seams were found to be too low down to be worth working.
The iron ores of Chandrapur have long excited the interest of investigators, and situated as they are in close proximity to the coal and limestone in and about Warora the question of exploiting them on modern commercial lines has frequently been mooted. The first detailed investigation of the iron deposits was made in 1873 which gave an extremely high estimate of the iron ore. An expert of great mining experience in Austria, after a survey in 1881, contemplated an annual outturn of no less than 260,000 tons of iron and steel, and was of the opinion that Chandrapur could not only supply the whole requirements of
India in iron and steel, but would also be able to compete with the Continent in importing ferro-manganese Brescian steel into England. Subsequent investigations however showed that these anticipations were very highly coloured. Difficulties of fuel and communication led the authorities to place Chandrapur only third on the list of possible sites for a modern iron industry. Experts of the Tata Iron and Steel Syndicate found that the amount of ore available had not only been greatly over-estimated, but there were also insuperable difficulties as to fuel and water-supply. "Messrs. Tata were finally induced under the advice of their experts to leave inferior coals alone and go direct to the good coking coals of Bengal. Thus for some years to come at any rate, the hope of seeing Chandrapur the Middles-borough of India must be abandoned ".
"If the quantity of the ore is disappointing there is at least no doubt as to its quality, and samples taken from Lohara, Pipalgaon, Gunjewahi, and Dewalgaon and analysed by Major Mahon gave extraordinarily rich results, the usual percentage of iron being as high as 68. Local ore is exceptionally free from sulphur and phosphorus, and therefore, is eminently qualified for the manufacture both of iron and steel. "
Chandrapur occupies an important place on the map showing the mineral wealth of Maharashtra. Besides the large reserves of high grade iron ore and coal described above, the forest areas of Sironcha, Brahmapuri and Gadhchiroli tahsils contain reserves of iron ore. manganese. mica ochres and clay. Copper is also discovered near Thanewasna in Chandrapur tahsil.
The important coal fields, at present, are situated at Majri, Ghugus, Warora, Ballalpur and Bandar. The reserves in these collieries have been estimated at 2,306 million tons. In 1960-61, mining leases for coal extraction from an area of 10,281.27 acres were given to seven private companies which extracted 6.7 lakhs tonnes of coal valued at Rs. 1,32,96,000. During 1961, 6.7 lakhs tonnes of coal was extracted, and this figure increased to 8.3 lakhs in 1962. The production of coal in 1963 and 1964 amounted to 852.000 tonnes and 881.000 tonnes, respectively.
The important deposits of iron ore are located in Lohara, Asola, Dewalgaon, Pimpalgaon, Fuser. Ratnapur and Bhisi. Some deposits are reported at Maseli, Surajagad, Margaon, Vithalgaon and Sindewahi. Red oxide of iron occurs at Babupeth near Chandrapur town. The iron ore deposits at the above mentioned places are estimated at 21.61 million tons.
During 1960-61. leases for the exploitation of iron ore from an area of 710.88 acres were granted to five mining companies which exploited 2,837 tonnes of ore valued at Rs. 17,450. The production of iron ore amounted to 4,675 tonnes in 1961, 13,023 tonnes in 1962. 3,322 tonnes in 1963 and 1,000 in 1964.
The Geological Survey of India have carried out preliminary geological mapping and mineral investigations in most of the
areas in the district, and further work is in progress. The survey
of Govindpur and Thanewasna areas has revealed that the areas
have promising copper deposits. The mineral wealth in the district warrants the establishment of an iron and steel project
there. In fact, this wealth in Chanda district will have an
increasingly vital role in the economy of Maharashtra. A more
scientific survey of the areas may reveal many new deposits and