Ministry makes case for iron ores exports

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New Delhi, Jun 26 (UNI) The Ministry of Mines is of the view that there is no justification for restricting iron ore exports due to abundant supplies and little risk of depleting reserves.

According to the National Steel Policy (NSP) 2005, annual iron ore exports are likely to grow to about 100 million tonnes (MT) by 2020. Going by these estimates, 10 years from now, only between 0.8 and 1.0 billions tonnes (BT) of the current resources of 25.25 BT would have been spent.

In view of ample availability of 25.25 billion tonnes in iron ore resources in the country, the Ministry feels there is no reason for concern on raw material security for the domestic steel capacities likely to come up in future. However, this could be done after assessing the expected increase in the steel production capacity in India.

The Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Ministry which met here today to discuss all aspects of iron ore in the country. The meeting was chaired by Mines Minister Sis Ram Ola.

Further, the ministry believes that any effort to curb iron ore exports without matching domestic consumption for the metal currently produced in the country, may be inimical to the country's standalone iron ore mining industry, severely affecting employment and economic activity in the backward regions of the country where most of these mines are located.

India is one of the few countries of the world with large pockets of high-grade iron ore deposits which have been increasing over the years. While current resources are estimated at 25.25 BT, between 1980-90 existing iron ore reserves rose by 5.22 BT and between 1990-2000 the reserves rose by another 801 MT.

Notably, despite having mined 1.65 BT or iron ore between 1980 and 2005, the resources grew from 17.56 BT in 1980 to 25.25 BT in 2005. The new finds actually amounted to 7.69 BT during the period averaging to a little over 256 MT a year. The average production during the last five years in India has been around 163 MT and 2007-08, it was 2003 MT indicating that new discoveries till 2005 having been greater than production.

The members were informed of the views of the ministry that management of mineral resources has to be closely integrated with the overall strategy of development whereby exploitation of minerals is to be guided by long-term national goals and perspectives.

Due to the imposition of export duty by the Finance Ministry, the Mines Ministry feels that any measures to restrict the exports would adversely affect the iron ore mining and livelihood of about 6 lakh people employed in its mining and tertiary sector.

The total production of iron ore fines in 2006-07 was 100 MT against a total production of 181 MT iron ore, that is 55 per cent of the total production. The total export of fines in 2006-07 was 68.38 MT against a total iron ore export that is 73 per cent of the total iron ore export. The consumption of fines by the domestic steel industry was only 41MT leaving a gap of 59 MT. Any effort to restrict production of fines will also lead to decrease in iron ore production. Domestic demand for fines is only to the extent of the sintering and pelletisation capacity available. If surplus fines are not exported, they will go waste and create environmental problems.

The Ministry also feels that it is national interest to promote pelletisation, calibration, benefication and blending of exports on a large scale to compete with international export market. The members of the Consultative Committee present were Mr Vikrambhai A Maadam, Mr Tushar A Chaudhary, Dr Prasanna Kumar Patasani, Mr Tukaram Renge Patil, Dr Rajesh Kumar Mishra, Mr Veerpal Singh Yadav and Mr Rudra Narayan Pany.

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