Top steel firms sign up for Goas iron ore auction

Written by Prashant Mukherjee | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 6 2014, 17:14pm hrs
Over a dozen steel firms, including Jindal Steel and Power, Bhushan Steel and JSW Steel, have registered themselves with the Indian Bureau of Mines as the Goa government is all set to start the process of e-auctioning of around 15 million tonne of iron ore lying idle in its stockyards next week.

Goas ore under auction could support 7 million tonne of steel capacity annually.

The Supreme Court appointed a three-member monitoring committee to oversee e-auctioning process and said that the proceeds from the sale will be kept in separate fixed deposit account by the Goa government till the apex court finally decided the matter.

However, the base price will be decided on the basis of iron ore grades.

The auction will take place in the similar lines of Karnataka. Goa's ore has more than 55+Fe content, official close to the development said.

The domestic steel mills have traditionally preferred ores with higher iron content but are now also developing technology to use the low-grade ore.

Indian steelmakers are raising their iron ore beneficiation and pelletisation capacities as they seek to expand the range of ore that their plants can handle.

India has about 36 iron ore pelletisation plants operated by steel companies as well as standalone raw material companies such as KIOCL (formerly Kudremukh Iron Ore Company) with a combined capacity of around 63 million tonne.

Goa used to be India's top exporting state, with sale of more than 40 million tonne a year mostly to China. But it has not produced or exported any ore since the Supreme Court imposed a ban to curb illegal mining. Recently, the government imposed a 5% tax on the export of iron ore pellets that may put brakes on the expansion plans of the country's pelletisation industry, worth around R50,000 crore.