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Protests shut India NMDC's major iron ore mines

business Updated: Jan 18, 2012 16:16 IST
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Local protesters have forced India's biggest iron ore miner, NMDC, to suspend production and shipments from a central state which accounts for two-thirds of its 25 million tonnes annual output, a company official said on Wednesday.

NMDC's mines in Chhattisgarh produce about 40,000 tonnes of the ore, which is vital for the steel industry, every day. Vast areas of the mineral-rich state are a stronghold of Maoist rebels and public protests against the government are common.

"There is a total halt in iron ore transportation and mining as well," NMDC official SP Himanshu said.

India, one of the world's biggest iron ore exporters, uses just over half its annual production of around 213 million tonnes at home. Most of NMDC's output is used domestically.

Work at the Chhattisgarh mines has been disrupted for almost a week and NMDC said it was not sure when shipments would resume.

The protesters are demanding the state-run railways improve the network in the area.

Himanshu said shipments stopped after the railways refused to supply wagons on fears they could be attacked. Piling stocks then forced suspension of production.

Exports of iron ore have plunged due to rising export duties as the government pushes to conserve supplies for domestic steelmakers.