money that goes straight into the pockets of foreign miners picking up the slack. India's role switch is one reason for a rebound in iron ore prices , which this year fell below $87 a tonne to their lowest since 2009 due to China's slowing economic growth. India's iron ore exports to China fell to less than 300,000 tonnes in October -- the lowest in at least two decades – after the ban in Goa. That followed a mining ban in Karnataka in 2011, after shipments there were halted a year earlier.
Goa's once-bustling mining hubs have turned into ghost towns, with scores of empty trucks parked by the roadside. Trains, some still loaded with ore, are stopped on the tracks. "We have been sitting idle for over two months now," said Pritesh Gawas, a 25-year-old worker at Sesa Goa's Sonshi mine.
In January-October, India's shipments to its biggest market stood at 32.6 million tonnes, down nearly half from a year ago, Chinese customs data showed, with South Africa edging it out as the No. 3 supplier. Shipments from Australia and Brazil were up 20 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
INDIA AS A BUYER
The flipside is that India is also starting to ship in ironore in significant quantities.
India has imported 9 million tonnes of iron ore so far in the fiscal year that began in April, estimates Basant Poddar, vice president of the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries, and could ship in 15 million tonnes for the full year. "It is a sad situation that we cannot mine in our own country legally and supply to our own domestic steel industry," Poddar said.
Importers include big producers Essar Steel, Bhushan Steel and JSW Steel, he said.
For the next fiscal year, India's iron ore exports may be no more than 15 million tonnes, while imports could climb to 20-25 million tonnes, said Poddar, making the country a net importer for the first time ever and hurting the competitiveness of its
steel producers. "Being an iron ore-rich country like India, it doesn't make sense to be producing steel on the basis of imported iron ore.