Government to review policy on iron ore exports

By Our Corporate Bureau | 14 Nov 2006

Mumbai: The government has proposed to review the policy on iron-ore exports amidst rising demanded from domestic steel industry, but ruled out imposing a blanket ban on shipments.

A new policy would be framed soon to keep export of the raw material to the bare minimum, as it would not be possible to impose a blanket ban on exports, union minister of state for steel Akhilesh Das said. He was addressing the 60th annual technical meeting of Indian Institute of Metals (IIM).

He, however, denied any shortage of iron-ore on account of exports as the country has huge deposits of the raw material.

Multinational steel giants, including South Korea's Posco and Mittal Steel, had sought permission to export iron ore from the country, but domestic players, including Tata Steel, are against ore exports.

Chairman of Tata Ryerson Ltd (TRL) and former managing director of Tata Steel, J J Irani had denounced exports of high-grade iron ore and termed such sales to foreign buyers as "suicidal' for the domestic steel industry.

Experts have, meanwhile, called for a review of the current practice of spot market sales of iron ore to Chinese companies. Instead, they suggested long-term agreements, mergers and consolidation of smaller mines to make them economical and investment friendly, introduction of technology and improvement of infrastructure.

India's exports to China represents 25 per cent of that country's imports of iron ore. Out of the 90 million tones of exports from India, a major chunk was shipped to China alone.

The minister, said research and development in the steel sector was vital but too little was spent on it. We have been encouraging all industries particularly in the steel sector to develop R&D wing in the country in view of growing steel sector, he said.

"The central government was emphasising the need to focus on research and development in the steel sector and even contemplating to allocate fund for the purpose," Das said.

The views expressed at the meet assume importance in the light of the ensuing controversy on the need to export the rich ore resources of the country instead of preserving them for future use.

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