A green bench, headed by Justice JS Khehar, while ruling out any possibility of allowing export of iron ore pellets, said its earlier order banning exports of iron ore and its byproduct need no further modification as of now. While private miners had sought lifting of ban on iron ore exports, the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) had ruled out any possibility of allowing export of iron ore pellets from Karnataka.
The court had ordered a total ban on mining in 2011 following allegations of corruption and environmental damage. Later, it allowed reopening of all Category A and B mines in Karnataka on April 18, 2013. Until the export was banned, Karnataka produce 200 million tonne of iron ore a year and exported 50% of it annually.
KIOCL, a government of India enterprise, had requested the apex court to clarify that its earlier order of April 13, 2012, did not impose a ban on the export of pellets. MSPL wanted a direction to the Karnataka government and the SC-appointed monitoring committee not to impose any hindrance to the export of pellets by it.
MSPL, one of the producers, told the court that pellet, used in steel making by feeding into direct reduced iron plant or blast furnace, is a value-added product that uses ore fines as raw material and its pellet plant has been suffering severe losses mainly due to non-availability of market to sell the stocks and the resultant inability to increase its production beyond 50.8% of the installed capacity.
Moreover, the lack of demand had adversely affected the price of pellets, the company said while praying for modification of the September 2011 order for restoration of long-term agreement with NMDC for procurement of iron ore from its Donimalai mines in Bellary district and for permission to export the pellets manufactured out of it.