REUTERS - India’s clampdown on illegal mining has cut output and exports and obliged steel mills to import a material the country has in abundance.
The ban has come at a fortuitous time for global miners seeking alternatives for their growing supplies as appetite from top buyer China slows.
Following is a timeline of key developments in India’s iron ore sector since Karnataka introduced its shipments ban:
July 26 - Karnataka state, governed by the opposition Hindu
nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, bans shipments of iron ore. The state government had faced pressure from the ruling Congress-led federal government to clamp down on illegal mining. Exporters in the state subsequently challenged the ban.
September - Iron ore exports post their sharpest monthly fall in nearly two years after Karnataka’s ban and on slow Chinese demand. Exports drop 47 percent from a year earlier to 3.03 million tonnes.
November 19 - Karnataka’s high court upholds the ban on shipments. State governments can decide on shipments or movements of resources but only the government can agree a ban on exports.
November 23 - Iron ore miners in the state say they will challenge the ban in the Supreme Court.
January 11 - Top iron ore producing state Odisha says it is considering seeking permission from New Delhi for a ban on exports.
January 25 - India’s state-owned railways announce an increase in freight costs on iron ore for export of 50 percent to 1,500 Indian rupees per tonne.
February 18 - Chhattisgarh joins Odisha in seeking federal government approval to ban iron ore exports.
February 28 - India hikes export duties on iron ore to 20 percent from 5 percent for fines and from 15 percent for lumps in its annual budget.
March 3 - Freight rates are hiked again, this time by 100 rupees per tonne to 1,600 rupees.
March 30 - Indian Railways says it will impose a “busy season” charge of 7 percent on iron ore freight rates from April 1 to June 30 and from October 1 to March 31. The charge was estimated to equate to about 150-200 rupees per tonne.
April 5 - The Supreme Court orders Karnataka state to lift its ban on iron ore shipments from April 20.
June 27 - Iron ore exporter Mineral Enterprises Ltd says it will ask the Supreme Court to uphold the lifting of the Karnataka ban, which has been delayed by an inquiry into illegal mining.
July 27 - An independent inquiry implicates B.S. Yediyurappa, a prominent opposition politician and chief minister of Karnataka, in a $3.6 billion illegal iron ore mining scandal.
July 29 - The Supreme Court imposes an interim ban on mining in the district of Bellary, an iron-ore rich region in Karnataka, on concerns over environment degradation.
July 31 - Yediyurappa resigns as Karnataka chief minister.
August 5 - The Supreme Court partially lifts the iron ore mining ban in Bellary district, allowing state-run NMDC (NMDC.NS) to mine up to 1 million tonnes a month from August 6.
August 26 - The top court expands the mining ban to Tumkur and Chitradurga, two districts in Karnataka.
December 12 - India’s top iron ore producing state, Odisha, stops issuing export permits for iron ore cargoes shipped via two small ports, Gangavaram and Kakinada.
April 20 - The top court partially allows the restart of Category A mines or mines of more than 50 hectares in Karnataka.
May 4 - Odisha mulls a 4 percent cut in its output to curb illegal mining.
Aug 10 - Goa also considers an 18 percent reduction in its output because of limited infrastructure to handle supplies.
September 3 - The top court allows 18 mines to resume iron ore mining in Karnataka state after a suspension of over a year.
September 11 - The state of Goa halts iron ore mining after an expert panel formed by the federal government found “serious illegalities and irregularities” in mining operations.
September 12 - Following the mining ban, India suspends environmental clearances given to 93 iron ore mines in Goa.
October 5 - Supreme Court suspends iron ore transport in Goa.
November 7 - Tata Steel (TISC.NS), India’s largest private steelmaker, says it expects to amicably resolve the issue of a large fine imposed by the Odisha government for failing to stick to mining norms in the state. Media reports said the Odisha government has fined Tata Steel and other firms for exceeding the annual limit on iron ore extraction from its mines in the state.
Compiled by Siddesh Mayenkar and Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Miral Fahmy