India's iron ore exports down for third straight month

India's iron ore exports were down for a third straight month in February, despite strong Chinese demand, even as a government crackdown on illegal mining hit supplies.

According to data from the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI), a New Delhi-based trade body, exports of iron ore, the main raw material for steel dropped 3.2 per cent.

India is the world's third-largest iron ore supplier after Australia and Brazil and the bulk of its iron ore is exported to China, which has the world's largest steel industry.

According to exporters, China is looking to increase imports to support its booming steel production. However, future supplies from India would be uncertain due to the government crackdown on illegal mining mainly from the eastern state of Orissa.

According to analysts exports are down largely due to political problems in India though demand from China remains strong.

Since last July, government action against illegal mining has led to the closure of over 60 iron ore mines in Orissa, the country's top iron ore producing state. Additionally restrictions have also been placed by the government on road and rail movements.