With complicated geological structures and favorable conditions for mineralizing, Sichuan boasts abundant and a comparatively full range of mineral resources. 132 varieties of mineral resources have been discovered, accounting for 70% of the national total. 94 varieties have been verified of considerable reserves, 32 among which rank the top 5 in China in terms of ensured reserves. Of all the mineral resources, reserves of 7 minerals including titanium, vanadium and pyrites rank the first in China. Reserves of titanium and vanadium in Sichuan are of global significance and the reserves of the former and the later respectively account for 82% and 1/3 of the global total reserves. Moreover, Sichuan’s reserves of 11 minerals like natural gas, lithium and mirabilite rank the second in China; reserves of another 5 like platinum-group metals and iron rank the third in China; reserves of 8 minerals including dolomite used for smelting magnesium and light rare-earth rank the fourth and reserves of phosphate rank the fifth in the country.
The characteristics of Sichuan’s mineral resources are as follows: 1) relatively concentrated distribution and distinct locality. Sichuan’s mineral resources are mainly located in three areas, namely southwest Sichuan (the Panxi region), south Sichuan and northwest Sichuan, all having its own features. Southwest Sichuan not only enjoys advantages of ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals and rare-earth resources, but also abounds in other minerals and has a sound combination of all the resources, and thus is one of China’s metallurgical bases; south Sichuan, one of China’s chemical industrial bases, boasts large reserves of and a great variety of non-metallic minerals like coal, sulfur, phosphorite, halite and natural gas; northwest Sichuan, with rich reserves of rare metals (lithium, beryllium, gold and silver) and energy minerals (uranium, peat), is a potential supply source of raw materials for high-tech products. 2) the majority are low-grade ores than high-grade ones in all the explored mines. Except for a few relatively high-grade ores like lead, zinc, chromium, silver, halite and glauberite, most of the others are middle-and-low grade ones. 3) a number of paragenetic and associated mines with significant value for comprehensive utilization. For instance, the vanadium-titanium magnetite mine in the Panxi region is a paragenesis of iron, vanadium and titanium. The coal mine in south Sichuan is a paragenesis of coal and sulfur. The lithium mine in northwest Sichuan is a paragenesis of lithium and beryllium. 4) Despite of abundant resources, Sichuan’s per capita amount of mineral resources is lower than the national average; despite of a full range of resources, the reserves of most of them are inadequate. At present, except for a few resources like vanadium-titanium magnetite, halite, mirabilite, lead, zinc, sulfur, iron, asbestos, mica, gold, phosphate and cement limestone, whose reserves can meet the exploration demand, most of the others are insufficient in quantity, poor in quality or inadequate in the explored mines.
(The above data are provided by the Sichuan Yearbook Press, See Sichuan Yearbook 2008 for more details.)