Ministry to take call on banning iron ore export from Goa

The Union Commerce Ministry will take a final call on banning iron ore export from Goa soon, Union Additional Mining Secretary, S K Srivastava, today said.

"Commerce Ministry will take the final call on the issue soon as it enjoys administrative powers," he told PTI.

Justice M B Shah Commission of enquiry, which went into illegal mining of iron ore and manganese ore, had advocated ban on export of these minerals running into billions of rupees and warned that such activities could influence state policies besides promoting illegal mining.

Referring to a remark by a senior official of China Minmetals Corporation that China had begun exploring alternate markets to source its requirement of iron ore following a decline in iron ore exports from India due to a crack down by the government to check illegal mining, Srivastava said India is not worried about the scenario.

India would be able to find good alternative markets for exporting iron ore, Srivastava said.

Moreover, the country's consumption of iron ore is increasing, he said said.

China Minmetals Corporation Assistant Chief Representative Shi Ming Li had in November last said India's iron ore supply "was not very stable".

"Who can tell what is the policy about the iron ore? Chinese companies are looking for alternatives," he had said.

China, which has been sourcing iron ore from Australia, Brazil and South America besides India is also looking at countries like South Africa, Iran, Ukraine, Congo, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Indonesia and Venezuela for the steady supply of the iron ore.

Asked about the demand of some business bodies to allow companies not guilty of irregularities to start mining operations in Karnataka, Srivastava said a final call would be taken by the court in consultation with those concerned. "We cannot say anything at this stage," he added.

However, the Mining Ministry strongly advocated for allowing mining under the legal framework of the country, he said.

Reacting to the demand of industry body ASSOCHAM for removal of import duty on iron ore, Srivastava said there were sufficient reserves in the country to meet the needs of the steel sector.

"Right now there is a problem because of the mining ban in some areas of the country ... in long term we have sufficient reserves," he said.

ASSOCHAM had urged the government to remove the 2.5 per cent import duty on iron ore as the steel industry continued struggling for availability of raw material.

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