| NEW DELHI, June 4
NEW DELHI, June 4 India's fourth-largest iron
ore producing state expects to raise production by a third to
about 37 million tonnes this fiscal year, even as mining
restrictions in two other states turn the country into an
importer of the steelmaking ingredient.
Chhattisgarh produced 27.7 million tonnes in the year ended
March 2013, with all of that output going to local steel mills,
said N.K. Xaxa, mines director of the mid-eastern state.
The higher production would benefit companies such as JSW
Steel Ltd which have been forced to import iron ore
amid steady steel demand and falling output of the raw material.
"Demand is very high, so we are raising production," he told
Reuters. "We've not been able to meet demand of the local steel
companies because of some geopolitical issues."
Xaxa declined to specify why the state's output will rise
State-owned National Mineral Development Corp,
Steel Authority of India Ltd, Essar Steel
and Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corp are some of the
iron-ore lease holders in Chhattisgarh, Xaxa said, adding that
his department has sanctioned 18 leases. JSW and Essar Steel buy
ore from NMDC.
India's output of iron ore is estimated to have fallen to
about 140 million tonnes in the year ended March 31, 2013, from
207 million in 2011, after the Supreme Court placed a ban on
mining in Karnataka and Goa states following allegations of
irregularities. Output was 167.3 million tonnes for the 2012
In April, the top court allowed some mines in Karnataka to
resume operations subject to conditions. Goa, India's No.1 iron
ore exporting state, expects court approval to resume by
year-end the production and export from mines with a capacity of
about 40 million tonnes.
Xaxa said he did not think there was any irregularity with
respect to iron ore mining in Chhattisgarh.
(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)