Iron ore export likely to fall 50 per cent: Fimi

India's iron ore exports are likely to be down 50 per cent this month on reduced demand from China, the biggest buyer, and weak sentiment for domestic mining companies.

According to R K Sharma, secretary-general, Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (Fimi), the apex industry body, the 20 per cent ad valorem export duty levied by the finance minister in the budget was set to badly affect shipment of the steel making raw material.

He added that since the proposed duty was made applicable from 1 March, its implication would begin this month. He said the exports were not expected to go beyond 5-6 million tonnes. In March 2010,  shipment of India's iron ore stood at 13MT.

According to Fimi exports declined in February for the eighth month in a row.

The downswing had started in July 2010 due to uncertainty in the global steel market, according to traders. The reluctance to import more of the ore was another factor contributing to the low demand.

Sharma says the coming months would present tough challenges for both miners and exporters as overall exports are expected to be around 90MT this financial year.