India's April-June iron ore imports fall 78 per cent

India's iron ore imports plummeted in the April-June 2013 quarter from a year earlier as domestic supplies increased following the impost of 30 per cent duty on exports and an improvement in domestic production.

Iron ore imports to the country fell 78 per cent per cent as domestic supplies increased and steel mills cut production to align with demand, official data showed.

Domestic production of iron ore saw a significant drop amidst a clampdown by the Supreme Court on illegal mining. Production has since picked up following steps to clean up the sector.

India, which used to be one of the top producers of iron ore, was forced to import the steel-making raw material following the mining ban imposed by the Supreme Court in Karnataka and Goa, for illegal mining.

India, which ranked as the third-largest exporter of iron ore in the world, exporting around 98 million tonnes, or 47 per cent of its total production in the year ended 31 March 2011, turned a net importer after the clampdown on illegal mining.

India's iron ore imports had tripled to 3 million tonnes in the year ended 31 March 2013 amidst a steady drop in output in top producing states such as Karnataka and Odisha.

India imported 185,113 tonnes of iron ore in the quarter ended 30 June, down from 826,372 tonnes a year ago, reports citing figures from the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics attached to the commerce ministry said.
The declining demand for steel and its raw material has been felt across Asia.

China, for instance, bought 9.1 per cent less of iron ore from overseas buyers in June.

The declining demand could push down global prices of iron ore that had already taken a 12 per cent fall this year, say analysts.

India's output of iron ore is estimated to have declined by 140 million tonnes in the year ended 31 March, from 207 million tonnes in 2011, following a ban on mining in Karnataka and Goa.

Output stood at 167.3 million tones during the year ended March 2012.

The Supreme Court has since allowed the Karnataka and Goa governments to open a number of mines.