JSW Steel, the country's largest private steel maker by domestic capacity, has sought banning iron ore export in a phased manner in next five years.
"Iron ore exports should be gradually banned. I would say that there should be a calibrated approach towards banning it, say in next five years bring down export of iron ore to zero," JSW Steel Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Sajjan Jindal said while announcing the company's first quarter results yesterday.
His remarks come amid reports of the Karnataka government announcing a ban on transport and export of iron ore from 10 ports. The company runs its two steel facilities in Karnataka.
The mills have an annual production capacity of 8.8 million tonnes.
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh had already sought imposition of ban on such shipments saying the move may help curbing illegal mining practices in the country. The ministers rather called for value-addition on the mineral in the country.
However, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia had said government has no plans to bring about a policy to ban export of the mineral.
Scindia said India has one of the largest reserves of iron ore in the world, and mining is only expected to increase due to advanced exploration techniques. Mines Minister B K Handique is also against such a policy decision.
On April 1, 2005, the resource position of iron ore was estimated at 25.249 billion tonnes. Iron ore exports stood at 105.87 million tonnes in 2008-09. Iron ore fines constituted about 87 per cent of the exports.
Handique had said the country does not have the capability to utilise iron ore fines, a statement contested by the steel ministry and the Karnataka government. At present, there is a 15 per cent duty on export of iron ore lumps and five per cent on iron ore fines.