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Economic Geology of Sri


What is economic geology?

Economic minerals are the minerals with some
monitory value or provide us money by
exporting or by using those to produce some
valuable product.
These materials include precious and base
metals, nonmetallic minerals, constructiongrade stone, petroleum minerals, coal, and
However, the term commonly refers to metallic
mineral deposits and mineral resources.

Economic geology of Sri Lanka

Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) in
Sri Lanka is one of the responsible authorities
for economic minerals in Sri Lanka. GSMB
evaluates the extension of the mineral reserve
and conduct research on the quality of the
Two sub sections

Economic minerals
Economic rocks

Economic minerals are classified into 4 major


energy minerals,
ferrous and ferroalloy group,
non-ferrous group
and non-metallic group.

Economic minerals in Sri Lanka

Energy minerals

Uranium, uranite, thorite (the silicate of thorium),

thorianite (the oxide of thorium) and monazite have
been found in Sri Lanka.
Uranium and thorium minerals are mostly found in
detrital deposits in Kalaoya area and Ratnapura,
Pelmadulla areas respectively.
Monozite is found as placer deposits around
Induruwa and Polkatuwa area near Beruwala along
the southern beach, heavy mineral concentrates in
gem bearing sediments in Ratnapura as well as in
Pulmoddai as beach sands.

Ferrous and ferroalloy group

Most common ferrous and ferroalloy minerals
found in Sri Lanka are magnetite, hematite and
iron oxides. This deposit is considered as surface
as well as subsurface reserve.
Recently found magnetite-hematite deposit at
Wellawaya is one of the best ferrous and
ferroalloy mineral deposits we have in Sri Lanka.
Several small magnetite reserves are found in
Wilagedara and Panirendawa around
Sandalanka and Chilaw respectively. These are
mostly surface deposits.

Seruwawila Cu-Magnetite

The copper-magnetite deposit at Seruwawila also

This was discovered by the Department of Geological
Survey in 1971.
Magnetite and sulphide massive sections can be found in
Those are about 1-10 m in thickness.
About 40% of the reserve is considered as iron while 2%
is estimated as copper. However, since this reserve is
located under ground, the extraction cost would be very

Ferroalloy serpentinite deposit

Rich in Nickel, Cobolt, Manganese and
Most popular serpentinite deposits are found at
Ussangoda and Udawalawe.

Non-ferrous minerals

Pulmoddai beach sand deposit is the most important

non-ferrous mineral reserve in Sri Lanka to date.
It contains minerals which consist of one of the most
expensive and important metals in the world that is
Ilmanite (FeTiO2) and rutile (TiO2) found in enormous
concentrations in the Pulmoddai beach sand deposit.
This deposit extends from Nilaveli to Kokilai lagoon
The distance is about 7.5km. The average width of the
sand deposit is about 60 m.

Several sand types are found in here; ilmanite (70-72%),

zircon (8-10%), rutile (8%), silimanite (1%) as well as
monazite (0.3%).
Geological explorations have estimated the total reserve
is about 4 million tones of sand in Pulmoddai deposit
while three closer deposits consist of another 7 million
tones more.
Exporting sand from this deposit started on 1959.
Ilmanite and rutile in this deposit are rich in TiO2.
Experiments have shown that TiO2 concentration of
ilmanite is about 53% while that of rutile is about 95%.

Non metallic minerals

Sri Lanka is rich in non metallic minerals

Vein quartz



Garnet sand
Silica sand


The use of graphite in Sri Lanka has a long history, from

Sri Lankan graphite is very popular all over the world for
its high purity.
There are two major mines for graphite, KahatagahaKolongaha and Bogala.
The largest mine is Kahatagaha-Kolongaha close to
Matale-Kurunegala road. This is deeper than 650 m.

Quartz and Feldspar

Quartz sand from Marawila-Naththandiya
deposits is used for bottle industry while
quartzite pieces from Galaha and Wellawaya are
exported directly Metasediments aged 2000
million years
Feldspar is used as a raw material for ceramic
and porcelain industries. The main feldspar
mine is located at Rattota, Matale.


One of our best economic mineral reserves is the apatite

rock phosphate at Eppawala.
The reserve extents over 7 km2 and about 125 m deep from
the surface. This has been proven by deep drilling.
It is estimated that the reserve consist of 60 million tones of
Apatite is being used to produce phosphate fertilizer.
However, enrichment of iron and less soluble tricalcium
phosphate in the reserve, fertilizer shows low solubility.
Therefore the fertilizer from this reserve, triple super
phosphate, is used for long term crops.

Feldspar, mica and dolomite

Feldspar, mica and dolomite are used for

domestic industries.
Feldspar is used as a raw material for ceramic
and porcelain industries.
The main feldspar mine is located at Rattota,
Matale. Mica mining and exporting has a long
history as well. It dates back as far as 1896.
Dolomite is utilized as a fertilizer in tea
cultivation also as a substitute for lime from
Largest dolomite mine is located at Digana, while
several small scales mines are located near


Three main types of clays are used to produce domestic

as well as export goods; kaolinite, ball clay and brick
clay. Borelasgamuwa and Meetiyagoda kaolinite deposits
are the two main deposits for kaolinite in Sri Lanka.
Weathering of quartz-feldspar-biotite gneiss (commonly
known as kalu gal in Sinhalese) results kaolinite. The
depth of kaolinite clay deposit at Borelasgamuwa is
about 10 m but distributed through out a large area and
consists of best quality clay. Although Meetiyagoda
deposit is about 30 m deep it has many impurities.
Yellow, red and blue colour ball clay is found in hill
country. These are being used to make casts and used as
refractory material because of their strength and high
plasticity. Brick clay is found in most of the river valleys
and they are used to produce bricks and tiles.

The history of gems in Sri Lanka dates back to
more than 2500 years. According to gemologists
Sri Lanka is the country with the highest density
of gem varieties.
All minerals are not gems and all gems are not
minerals either. Some organic materials are
considered as gems such as pearl and amber.
Only inorganic materials are considered as
minerals. We are going to talk about the gems
that are minerals.

Gem varieties
Family and mineral name



Blue Sapphire



Red, pink

Orange Sapphire


Yellow Sapphire



White, blue and colourless


Green, red
Colorless, yellow


Green, yellow, orange, violet, brown, pink, honey

colour, colourless


Emerald green, brown, green, black


Red, yellow, orange, violet, pink, blue, green













Gem deposits

Gem deposits in Sri Lanka can be categorized

into 3 main groups.

Residual deposits - Okkampiiya

Elluvial deposits - Elahera
Alluvial deposits - Ratnapura

Thank you!