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Paswan seeks PM's intervention to curb iron ore exports

Our Bureau

Also urges not to renew LTAs with Japan, Korea


BAN EVENTUALLY: The Union Minister for Steel, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, greets the Assocham President, Mr Anil K. Agarwal, at the `India steel summit: Galvanising future growth' in New Delhi on Thursday. The Ministry of Steel has sought the intervention of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, for phasing out export of high-grade iron ore from the country over a fixed time frame and has also urged that the long-term agreements with countries such as Japan and Korea should not be renewed. — V. Sudershan

New Delhi , Sept. 28

The Ministry of Steel has sought the intervention of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, for phasing out export of high-grade iron ore from the country over a fixed time frame and has also urged that the long-term agreements (LTAs) with countries such as Japan and Korea should not be renewed.

The Minister for Steel, Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, said: "We have written a letter to the Prime Minister apprising him of the issue of exports of iron ore. We have also written letters to the Finance, Mines and Commerce Ministries on the issue explaining our position to them."

The Minister said that to achieve the National Steel Policy target of 110 million tonnes of steel production by 2019-20, the country should ensure that sufficient quantity of iron ore and coal were available to the steel producers.

To protect industry

The Steel Ministry, with its objective of protecting the interest of steel industry, had earlier also called for curbing iron ore exports while the mining industry has been opposing it tooth and nail. The organisation representing the steel manufacturers, Indian Steel Alliance (ISA), had also written to the Prime Minister seeking a ban on iron ore exports.

The mining industry body Federation of Indian Mining Industries (FIMI) has argued that exports must continue and has also written to the Prime Minister that captive iron ore mines should not be given to domestic steel manufacturers and they should buy the ore from the miners. As domestic demand improves, exports would gradually go down, the federation has argued.

Iron ore exports up

According to available estimates, iron ore exports from the country have grown by more than 300 per cent in the last five years to 90 million tonnes in 2005-06 while the country's steel imports have increased by 40 per cent in 2004 and 70 per cent by 2005.

On the issue of shortage of coking coal in the domestic market, the Minister said if State-run steel utilities failed to procure coal from within the country, efforts would be made to get coal from abroad. Steel Authority of India Ltd is already importing more than 50 per cent of its coking coal requirements, company officials said.

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