Commerce ministry against export of high grade iron ore

Iron ore exports from India are set to face tighter curbs as the Union ministry of commerce & industry plans to bar shipping of high grade ore outside the country while underscoring the need for firm regulation on exports of minerals.

“We will see how iron ore exports can be regulated in a very firm manner so that the bad practices are not allowed to prevail. Presently, the export policy allows exports of iron ore with Fe content of 64 per cent and beyond but ore with less Fe content has also gone out illegally. Possible canalization of iron ore exports is being considered but we are yet to take a final call on the matter. In any case, we will not allow rich grade ore to go out of the country,” Anand Sharma, minister for commerce & industry and textiles said here during a media conference.

The country produces 230-235 million tonnes of iron ore per annum, out of which domestic consumption stands at 92 million tonnes with the remainder being exportable surplus, the minister informed.

Stating that he fully backed value addition of the ore, Sharma said, “India has developed techniques for beneficiation of low grade ore. But it will take time for the country to consume all the iron ore that is mined. Ore once mined cannot be stored because of environmental hazards. Government has to take a balanced and judicious view, not any extreme view on it (iron ore exports). What is right will be done.”

India had raised export duty on iron ore from 20 per cent to 30 per cent to discourage exports as it looks to conserve supplies for its own steel industry. China which procured 15 per cent of its iron ore from India in 2010-11 was looking at alternatives as ore exports from the country had slumped following duty hike.

Orissa, the nation’s biggest iron ore producer, has been vehemently demanding ban on exports of minerals. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention on the matter as export of mineral ores enriched the miners disproportionately without improving the lot of the people displaced by mining activities.

Meanwhile, the minister denied any flip-flop by the Centre in respect of the Posco project.

“There has been absolutely no flip-flop on the Posco project. The tribunal has given its order and since the matter is sub-judice, I cannot comment anything,” he clarified.

Sharma also said the Centre would consider Orissa’s request for establishment of handloom clusters in the state while categorically denying allegations that the Union government was neglecting interests of state weavers.

“We will definitely be interested to work with Orissa for establishment of handloom clusters in the state. The ministry, however, will consider this only after receiving a detailed proposal.”

The Union minister called on the state chief minister with the talks centring on handlooms, handicrafts and marine products. The chief minister requested Sharma for setting up of a handloom cluster in Bargarh district.

Sharma said two new courses-fashion design and accessory design- will be introduced from the Bhubaneswar campus of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) from 2012-13 and the institute will be connected to design centres.

On generic drugs manufacturing, the minister said India was a world leader, accounting for 22 per cent of the global production and a major breakthrough is the introduction of malaria resistant drug which is likely to hit the market within 45 days.

[Source – Business Standard]

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