Steel majors rejoice as ore exporters roil

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s move did not gel well with the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI), which saw steel cartel of few majors behind the hatching of the moveand termed it as a huge blow for domestic iron ore producers.

FIMI General Secretary R K Sharma, while observing that the entire proposal was self-defeating, warned that production will come down as a result of which steel prices will go up making end-users suffer. The entire proposal is self-defeating. It too means a huge loss to the exchequer, he said adding the future of 1 million people directly employed with the mining industry is also at stake.

Country’s largest steel maker Steel Authority of India, however, was over-joyed terming that the move would ensure higher iron ore availability to domestic industry. Sail Chairman C S Verma said “higher export duty on iron ore was a long-pending demand of steel industry and the budget has taken care of the issue by increasing export duty to 20 per cent.”

“The increase in export duty...is a step in the right direction but the exemption of duty on pellets also reduces the scope for greater value addition within the country,” Tata Steel Managing Director H M Nerurkar said.

“The value addition at pelletisation stage is much less as compared to finished steel stage and aim should be to encourage steel production within the country, which would lead to more jobs, output and value addition within the country,” he added.

JSW Steel Vice-Chairman & Managing Director Sajjan Jindal hailing the move said this would lead to greater value addition at home and encourage domestic steel industry. Echoing similar views, KIOCL Chairman & Managing Director K Ranganath observed that “iron ore is a natural resource which needs to be conserved. Export of a value-added product from iron ore will not only generate value in export but also provides higher scope for emplyment and generation of wealth in the value-added industry.”

Karnataka-based MSPL Limited of the Baldota Group, a leading iron ore mining company, however, did not favour the hike, stating it was steep and would cause inconvenience. “The State’s iron ore scene is already in doldrums. The Centre and the State must take steps to check illegal mining, rather than increasing export duty,” a company official said.

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