Total ban on export of iron ore demanded

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Kolkata, Feb 21(UNI) Trade union leaders, steel executives and industrialists today demanded a total ban on export of iron ore from the country and formulation of a national policy on mineral resources.

Expressing concern at the 'indiscriminate' export of iron ore --100 million tons every year--they apprehended at a national convention that the practice would lead to exhaustion of the current effective reserve of nine billion tons of usable iron ore in the next two decades and spell doom to the indigenous steel industry.

The national convention was organisxed by major central trade unions, including CITU, INTUC, AITUC and HMS alsong with Steel Executive Federation of India (SEFI). Industry leaders, including Tata Steel, Jindal Steel, Essar Steel and All India Sponge Iron Producers' Association also joined the convention.

Later, speaking at a press conference, CITU President M K Pandhe urged the Prime Minister to call a meeting of the concerned people in steel industry and iron ore mining to start the process of formulating a national policy on minerals movement.

He said the trade unions of different hues which had come closer on this issue, would try to build up a national concensus with the help of other quarters. " With all political parties taking it up, the issue will also be raised in Parliament," he said.

Mr Pandhe said with the domestic steel production reaching 200 million ton-mark by 2020, the country would be requiring more iron ore while steel companies like SAIL would require more lease on iron ore mines to meet their expanded production.

If it was not possible to put an overnight ban on iron ore export because of certain commitments, not more than ten per cent should be allowed to go outside the country, he observed.

INTUC leader Ramen Pandey said a delegation of the trade unions would shortly submit a memorandum to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard.

" If iron ore is used for making finished steel in the country, we will be earning more revenues than what we are getting from export," he said.

The convention also demanded immediate renewal of the lease of iron ore mines being held by SAIL.

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