Iron ore miners get fillip as SC lifts export ban

Iron ore miners got a big fillip on Tuesday as the Supreme Court moved to lift the Karnataka government's nine-month-old ban on exports of the key input in the manufacture of steel.

The apex court has lifted the ban from 20 April, giving Karnataka 15 days to tighten measures to halt illegal mining. However, the court made it clear that its order is an interim one – it will further hear the matter in early May.

An immediate gainer was Vedanta group company Sesa Goa, shares of which jumped as much as 6 per cent at close of trading on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The ban on iron ore exports from the state's 10 ports was imposed last July as an almost as a knee-jerk reaction to allegations of the state government condoning rampant illegal iron ore mining.

A petition against the state government's dictat was filed in the Supreme Court in November by major mining companies such as Sesa Goa, MSPL Ltd, SB Minerals and Mineral Enterprises after the high court rejected their plea.

In January, the Supreme Court asked the Karnataka government to either notify a law against illegal mining within two weeks or lift its ban order on transportation of iron ore meant for exports. In February it directed the government to allow export of the iron ore that had piled up at major ports in the state. Tuesday's is its latest ruling on the matter.

Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa of the BJP, who has a slim majority in the assembly, declined comment on the apex court's order, saying he had to study it in detail.