Sri Lanka is an island nation located to the south of India in the Indian Ocean. The total area of the country is 65,610 km2, and it has a population of 21,481,334 as of July 2011. The countrys climate is predominantly tropical monsoon. Sri Lanka was formerly known as Ceylon when it gained its independence in 1948. The country has ever since been plagued by the violent disruptions caused by the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists. The decades long civil war between the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has affected the countrys progress to a large extent. The end of the civil war has clearly helped stabilize the economic growth in 2010 and 2011, especially after the financial downturn of 2009. The GDP of Sri Lanka was $118 billion in 2011. The natural resources of Sri Lanka include graphite, mineral sands, limestone, phosphates, and gems. The mining sector does not play a significant role in the countrys economy.
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Sri Lanka has many industrial minerals such as dolomite, feldspar, ball clay, kaolin, calcite, gemstones, mica, mineral sands, graphite, limestone, phosphate rock, quartz, and silica sand. In 2011, the country did not produce any metals or crude oil. It relied on imported petroleum for refining. The map of Sri Lanka. Image Credit: CIA Factbook
In 2011, Ceylon Steel Corp. completed its three year expansion project at Oruwela, thereby enabling the iron mills production capacity to expand to 250,000 Mt/yr from 100,000 t/yr. Experts state that the black mineral sands of Pulmoddai beach contain heavy mineral concentrates amounting to about 12.5 million Mt. of which 65% is ilmenite, 10% is zircon, 10% is rutile, and small quantities of garnet and monazite.
In 2011, Sri Lanka had a cement shortage situation due to the increase in demand, hence began importing cement from Indonesia, Pakistan, and Malaysia. In the same year, Holcim Ltd. of Switzerland made plans to expand the grinding capacity of its cement plants and also to construct a new cement plant. Holcim Ltd. a subsidiary of Holcim operated a 1 million Mt/yr capacity cement plant at Puttalam. It also operated a grinding plant at Galle. Sri Lanka has an array of gemstone deposits. The Highland Complex in the country is known for its high grade metamorphic land rich in gemstones. The two major graphite producers in the country are Bogala Graphite Lanka plc and Kahatagaha Graphite Lanka Ltd. The combined production capacity of the two companies amounted to about 11,000 t/yr in 2011.
In 2011, Cairn Lanka Ltd., a subsidiary of Cairn India Ltd., discovered potential gas reserve in a well on one of the blocks in the Mannar Basin in Sri Lanka. The Mannar Basin is divided into eight blocks. The combined capacity of the eight blocks is estimated to be more than 1 billion bbl of oil. Around $2 billion/yr is spent on petroleum imports.
The government of Sri Lanka is working towards better economic growth and has implemented many government reforms and policies to encourage private investment so as to develop the impoverished areas of the country. Experts believe that the discovery of natural gas in the Mannar Basin will persuade the government to start issuing permits for oil and gas exploration in the near future. Recent reports state that Sri Lankas gem and jewelry industry is heading towards becoming a global gem trading zone in the coming years. The industry currently is hoping to earn $600 million this year. The amount of gem reserves in the country is likely to ensure that Sri Lankas gem market reaches $ 1billion by 2016. Another piece of positive news for Sri Lanka39;s mining sector is that the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau plans to use an airborne geophysical survey system to help locate the concealed mineral resources around the country. Disclaimer: The Author of this article d...
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