MICA MINES IN NELLORE
MICA MINING IN ANDHRA PRADESH
India produces about sixty-two percent of the world’s mica. Mica commonly occurs in flakes, scales or shreds. Sheet muscovite (white) mica is used in electronic insulators, ground mica in paints as well as in joint-cement as a dusting agent. It is also used in the manufacture of plastics, in roofing and in welding rods.
In India, the main mica-sites in Andhra Pradesh are found at Atmakur, Ravuru and Gudur of Nellore district. Large deposits of Mica are also found at Tiruvuru in Krishna District, Madhira [Khammam District], and Ankannagudem of West Godavari, all in AP.
But, over the last few decades, the demand for mica has been declining steadily, mainly because of newer, more economically viable materials that are being used to substitute mica, which had its numerous uses in the production of electronic as well as electric goods. This loss of demand has brought mica production to a grinding halt. The mica-mines of Gudur stand testimony to that: Most of them have shut down or are on the verge of shutting down.
The Gudur district is home to some of the oldest mica mine-sites in India. Mining leases that have been issued to companies vary from seventy-five to ninety-nine years. Many of the leases have expired.
Only the remains of the abandoned mines stand. Barely. Some of the remaining mining leases, though, are set to expire in the next few years – the mine owners are fervently hoping to renew their licences. When mica production was at its peak, there were about sixty to seventy mines that were operational in the area. Now, hardly eleven are active. And from sixty to seventy thousand miners, their numbers have dwindled down to about three to four thousand. Mica is mined in only some of the mines: the rest of them employ people to ‘muck’ for feldspar and sort it from the overburden, which has accumulated over decades of mica mining. Though many of the old mines have closed down, illegal mining continues at these abandoned sites. In the villages of Dadichettipalli & Eddarangapalli, the local population is dependent on the mica mine for employment, as their lands have dried up because of the current drought, the water reservoirs have been destroyed from the cyclone that occurred in 2003, and the water table levels has slowly but steadily decreased.