State-owned Minerals & Metals Trading Corp will next month sign contracts with Japanese and South Korean steel companies, including Posco, to supply iron ore for a period of three years.
"An official delegation headed by MMTC chairman and managing director Vijaylaxmi Joshi will visit Tokyo and Seoul next month to sign contracts with five Japanese companies and one South Korean company," said a PTI report citing unnamed sources. Shipments are expected to start from July 2012.
Last month, the Cabinet had approved the export of iron ore by MMTC to Japanese and South Korean steel mills for three more years.
"The state-owned unit will supply three million tonnes of iron ore per annum to five Japanese companies, including Nippon Steel Corp, JFE Steel Corp and Nisshin Steel," the sources added. Besides, MMTC will supply 1 mt of iron ore a year to South Korean major Posco, they said.
Posco has been struggling since 2005 to build a steel mega-plant in Odisha (Orissa), but the project is stuck over environmental and land acquisition issues.
MMTC would supply iron ore (lumps and fines) of grade (plus) 64 Fe, or high grade content, to Japanese and Korean steel mills from country's largest iron ore mines - NMDC's Baildila Mines in Chhattisgarh.
MMTC's earlier contract to supply iron ore for five years to Japanese and Korean steel mills had expired on 31 March 2011 and since then it was pending as price negotiations has not taken place.
India, the third-largest global exporter of iron ore, had exported 97.64 mt iron ore in the 2010-11, down from 117.3 mt in 2009-10, while the figure for the just-concluded fiscal is estimated at about 60 mt on account of less production due to a ban in Karnataka.
India's iron ore exports are likely to decline to 50 mt in the current fiscal, as per miners' body FIMI's estimates.