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Naiyar Imam, Meenakshee Sahu, Chanchal Singh

The prospecting and mining of base metal in India dates back to 3000 B.C. All the base metal deposit of India has surface manifestations in various forms. From 19th century to the middle of the present century, certain European companies started a modern phase of base metal exploration and development. Earlier, the search for base metal was confined to the close study of surface features. In 1940 ground geophysical survey work has been introduced in order to search the mineral deposits. The total world production of lead and zinc metals are about 3.9 and 11.4 million tonnes respectively in 2009. The leading producing countries for lead is China (41% of world production), followed by Australia (15%), USA (10%), Peru (8%) and Mexico (4%). The Indian production of lead and zinc ore is 7.10 million tonnes in the year 2009-10, it includes 136095 tonnes of lead concentrate and 1224077 tonnes zinc concentrate. In India, the Western Indian Craton (Rajasthan) is the main provider of base metal to the country. It contributes nearly 85% of the estimated lead and zinc. In Western India Craton, the main metallotect of lead and zinc from an elongated NE – SW trending polygon, this covers an area of about 20000 sq. km. It comprises three metalliferous belts mainly, the Pur-Banera belt, the Rajpura-Dariba- Bethumni belt, and the Sawar belt and two metalliferous enclaves namely; the Agucha and the Kayar enclave. The 20 km. long crescent shaped, Rajpura-Dariba-Bethumni belt striking N-S to NNE-SSW. The ancient mining and smelting activities have been noticed at both ends of the belts. Towards the southernmost part of the belt, the typical gossan is exposed in the form of hill. B.C. Gupta, Geological survey of India (G.S.I) first reported Dariba – Bethumni belt, in the year 1934. The systematic exploration of the belt was initiated by G.S.I in 1962 and continuing till present. In the Rajpura-Dariba-Bethumni belt Rajpura and Dariba blocks are under active production since 1983, whereas in the Sindesar Khurd block the production was started in 2007, under the ownership of Hindustan Zinc Limited of Vedanta Group. Recently the exploration activity is going on in the Sonariya Khera block, Chittor block and Bethumni block under the possession of Hindustan Zinc Limited.