Indian government denies iron-ore scarcity – by Ajoy K Das (MiningWeekly.com – March 11, 2013)

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KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) – The Indian government has denied any scarcity in domestic availability of iron-ore and refuted reports that the country would be a net importer by 2020.

“There will be no shortage of iron-ore, even in 2020, when Indian steel production is projected to rise to 100-million tons a year,” Mines Minister Dinsha Patel said.

“Indian steel production is about 67-million to 70-million tons a year. It requires 1.6-million tons of ore for producing one-million tons of steel. Indian iron-ore production was 210-million tons in 2010 and came down to 167-million tons following a ban on mining in Karnataka. Even then there is no dearth of iron-ore,” he said.

Iron-ore production in the country has been steadily falling in the wake of a ban imposed in the southern Indian province of Karnataka a year-and-a-half ago, and a similar ban across the western Indian coastal province of Goa in October 2012. Mining was currently permitted in the eastern province of Orissa but with severe restrictions on transportation.

Indian iron-ore exports during the ten-month period between April 2012 and January 2013 were down 68% to 16.35-million tons, compared to the corresponding previous period.

According to an official in the Mines Ministry, the government’s denial of the iron-ore shortage for domestic steel production was prompted by a series of reports put forth by analysts over the past few months, which predicted that India would turn into a net importer of iron-ore as early as the next fiscal year.

The official said that the mining industry’s contention that the quantity of iron-ore imports was higher than exports, indicating a shortage of raw material, was fallacious.

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