The major occupation of this district is agriculture and 75% of its total labour force is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood. The important crops grown are cotton, jowar, groundnuts, rice, sunflowers and cereals. The main source of irrigation is Tungabhadra Dam. The canal network accounts for 64% of the district’s irrigated area. Important rivers are Tungabhadra, Hagari and Chikkahagari.
Ballari district is rich in natural resources which need to be tapped to a great extent for overall development of the district. This district is endowed with rich mineral resources. It has both metallic and non-metallic minerals. The metallic minerals include iron ore, manganese ore, redoxide, gold, copper and lead. The non-metallic minerals include andalusite, asbestos, corundum, clay, dolomite, limestone, limekankan, moulding sand, quartz, soap stone, granite and red ochre. The metallic minerals are abundant is only three talukas, Sanduru, Hosapete and Ballari in the order of mining activity intensity. Ballari to its credit has the second largest single rock mountain in the world.
Ballari district has 25% of India’s Iron ore reserves. Till 1994 handful of mining companies operated here including state owned NMDC. Later Govt issued mining licenses to many private operators.
Despite the availability of minerals in large quantities, this district is considered to be an industrially backward district. There are 23 units of large and medium scale industries in this district with an investment of Rs.447.76 crores employing around 9,222 persons At present it occupies ninth place in the state. Sathavahana Ispat Ltd. is the first Pig Iron plant set up in the region to utilize the abundant iron ore reserves available, Kirloskar was the next to follow with their Pig Iron plant. However, with the commissioning of Jindal Vijayanagar Steel Limited at Hosapete, the industry scenario of this district underwent sea changes. It is understood that Mukand Steels and Kalyani Steels have started industries in this area.