GoM to focus on iron ore export, coal on Monday

New Delhi, May 25 | Updated: May 26 2007, 05:30am hrs
The group of ministers on National Mineral Policy headed by Shivraj Patil is likely to make another attempt to arrive at a consensus on the issue of iron ore export when it meets on Monday for the second time.

The committee is expected to take a call on the issue of coal mining and royalty payable to state governments and the issue of export duty on minerals.

Though no solution is expected, the meeting assumes significance as the finance ministry may have to do a lot of explaining on the rationale behind the announcement of rollback of export duty on iron ore containing less than 62% ferrous content.

Finance minister in the Budget had proposed an export duty of Rs 300 per tonne, which was later rolled back to Rs 50 per tonne on iron ore containing less than 62% ferrous.

However, on iron ore fines having ferrous content above 62% and on iron ore lumps, the duty remain at Rs 300 per tonne as proposed in Budget 2007.

The timing of the rollback has been questioned by the steel industry as the National Mineral Policy 2007 is under consideration by group of minister and steel industry could well have waited for the outcome of the National Mineral Policy 2007.

The steel ministry has stated that conservation of iron ore is a must to meet the target envisaged in National Steel Policy 2005 and has demanded a cap on iron-ore export.

India is 2006-07 has exported 90 million tonne of iron-ore, out of which 75 million tonne was exported to China, the largest producer and consumer of steel.

However, the mining industry has welcomed the move, but added that the move is only a partial relief as only one-third of iron ore export from India would benefit. The announcement of rollback has only benefited Goa and Karnataka as Goa produces low ferrous content in iron ore and Karnataka would blend iron ore in Goa and export.

To coordinate between the related needs of different stakeholders in the mining sector, a committee headed by the Planning Commission member, Anwarul Hoda, was set up to lay down norms the policy.

But subsequent to that, two more committees have been set up. One has been set up by the ministry of mines to examine the recommendations made by the Hoda committee and identify the feasible one.

The Prime Ministers Office (PMO) had also set up a high-powered committee to look particularly into the issue of mining and exporting of iron ore, which in value terms contributes to more than 50% of the mining sectors turnover.