Chhattisgarh seeks ban on iron ore exports

"For the past six years, I am reiterating that a ban must be placed on export of iron ore urgently. It is not a wise decision at all to hand over the country's limited natural resources," Chief Minister Raman Singh told reporters. Singh's call for a ban came ahead of a meeting of a 10-member ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday to consider a new mines and mineral development and regulation bill.

Demands for an outright ban have also come in from several quarters in the wake of reports of illegal export of iron ore, especially from Karnataka. Left parties on Monday asked the government to stop the export of iron ore. India, the world's third-largest iron ore supplier, exports roughly half of its total iron ore production, mainly to China. The country produced 226 million tonnes of iron ore in the 2009-10 fiscal.

Experts say the country cannot afford the luxury of having rampant exports of more than 100 million tonnes of iron ore every year for an indefinite period. "Export of iron ore is a kind of crime against the nation because the country’s limited stocks are getting exhausted everyday. It must be preserved for domestic steel industry which is on a massive expansion," said Singh.

Chhattisgarh has India’s one of the best quality iron ore stocks, mainly in the Bastar region, where the country’s largest iron ore producer and exporter in the public sector, NMDC, is mining since 1968.

NMDC Chairman and Managing Director Rana Som has also stressed the need for a proper national iron ore policy favouring curbs on export of iron ore. Steel Minister Vir Bhadra Singh last week came out in favour of a ban, saying the country should conserve its precious minerals and export value-added products.

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