Iron ore imports plunge 78% in April-June on abundant supply

Written by Reuters | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 16 2013, 11:26am hrs
Indias iron ore imports plunged 78% in the April to June quarter from a year earlier, according to provisional data from government sources, as domestic supply rose and exports fell.

The shipment data, coupled with a 9.1% drop in iron ore imports by top buyer China in June, is expected to drag global prices of the steel-making raw material that have already shed more than 12% so far this year.

India has historically produced enough iron ore to meet its domestic demand, but imports by Asias third-largest economy tripled to 3 million tonne in the year ended March 31 after output from top producing states Karnataka and Orissa fell due to a court-mandated clampdown on illegal mining.

Production has since picked up following steps to clean up the sector of practices such as mining outside allotted areas. A 30% duty on exports has also made more iron ore available in the country.

India imported 1,85,113 tonne of iron ore in the quarter ended June 30, according to figures from the agency that tracks the data for the commerce ministry and provided to Reuters by a top official, down from 826,372 tonne

a year ago.

Final data is expected by end-August, said the official at the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics. The numbers were confirmed by a senior steel ministry official. Both officials did not want to be named as they are not authorised to speak to media.

India was once the third-largest exporter of iron ore in the world, sending out about 98 million tonne, or 47% of its total production, in the year ended March 31, 2011.

The country's output of iron ore is estimated to have fallen to about 140 million tonne in the year ended March 31, from 207 million in

2011, after a ban on mining in Karnataka and Goa. Output was 167.3 million tonne for the year ended March 2012

Karnataka has opened some of its mines since last year on the orders of the Supreme Court.