September 30, 2008 / 12:49 PM / 12 years ago

India's iron ore exports to fall by a third - official

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s iron ore exports are set to fall by as much as a third in the year to March due to poor global demand, and overseas sales will be at a lower average price, a senior mines ministry official said on Tuesday.

Mines Secretary Shantanu Consul said his ministry favoured scraping an export tax on the mineral to help miners, even as the steel ministry has proposed a hike in the duty to 20 percent from 15 percent.

Falling demand for iron ore from China, which buys nearly 75 percent of India’s normal exports of about 100 million tonnes of the mineral, has hurt domestic miners who have requested the government to abolish the export tax imposed in July.

“This year, the way things are going, the total exports may come well below 70-80 million tonnes,” Consul told a news conference. “Last year, we exported 104 million tonnes and the average rate ... was about $130 a tonne.”

He said the average export price this year could be around $80 per tonne.

Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has supported steel firms in their demand that the export tax on iron ore be raised to ensure sufficient domestic supplies.

Consul said iron ore exports help the country earn foreign exchange and India has enough stocks for domestic steel mills.

Mines ministry officials say India has 25.25 billion tonnes of iron ore reserves and the government may revise the estimate upward by including ores with lower iron content.

“Our feeling at the present juncture is that the export of iron ore is not going to be harmful. It is bringing in foreign exchange and keeping the mining sector going,” Consul said.

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