Iron ore miners in India dubs steel industry’s claim of shortage of ore as “artificial”; calls for complete ban on illegal export of iron ore pellets

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Photo courtesy: BHP

Iron ore miners described the steel industry’s allegation that the steel making raw material is in shortage in the country at present as “artificial”. The domestic steel industry has been petitioning the government for imposing a ban on iron ore exports, at least for the time being, in view of the scarcity and spiraling price of the raw material. Last week, steel minister Dharmendra Pradhan said a short-term ban on iron ore exports was under consideration.

Miners’ body Federation of Indian Minerals Industries (FIMI) has urged the Centre to immediately put a complete ban on illegal exports of iron ore pellets stating that such a move would help meet the domestic requirement of the key material used in making steel.

In a recent letter to Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, FIMI also made a plea to the government for urgent intervention to introduce a price monitoring and regulation mechanism for sale of steel by integrated producers so as to ensure that there is no unreasonable hike in domestic steel prices due to any increase in international iron ore prices.

“We also request you to put immediately complete ban on illegal exports of iron ore pellets by private entities other than exports by KIOCL. This would help meet the requirement of iron ore by the domestic steel industry,” the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) said.

The steel sector has been facing an acute shortage of iron ore, which is a key raw material for making steel. “It can starkly be observed that 9 million tonnes of iron ore pellets have been exported mainly illegally by the pellet manufacturers other than KIOCL. Moreover, 62-64 per cent Fe (iron) is required for manufacturing of pellets. Had this illegal exports of pellets by private entities not been allowed, domestic steel industry would have met their requirement to that extent,” FIMI said.

FIMI said of the total 29 million tonnes (MT) exports between April and September of the current fiscal, about 19 MT of ore were of lower grade which domestic steel companies do not use. Also, a majority of such exports were from the 163 MT stocks, as on March 31, 2019, lying at mine-heads.

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