KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) – Indian iron-ore production during the current financial year is expected to have grown over the previous year, and imports too are showing tentative signs of a rise.
According to preliminary government data, total iron-ore production is expected to be 210-million tons at the end of March, growth of 9% over the previous financial year, despite disruption in Odisha and the closing down of Goa iron-ore mines from March 15.
While definitive government data on iron-ore imports for the current year is not readily available yet, industry estimates that, since January, an estimated five-million tons have been imported, with international miners like Australia’s Fortescue stepping up shipments.
The inward shipment of five-million tons of iron-ore since January is already close to the total 5.1-million tons imported in the 2015/16 full year. In 2014/15, India imported 15-million tons.
Imports since January are an indication that the falling trend of the past few years may be reversed in the next financial year.
Officials in private steel companies say that one of the reasons for a rise in domestic production and imports is the mismatch between the grades available and the requirements of the steel mills.
While most blast furnaces of domestic steel mills require high-grade lumps, the bulk of the incremental production from the mines was possibly lower grade fines, the officials say.
With domestic availability of high-grade lumps limited, several private steel mills are resorting to imports of medium-grade ores through the southern port of Krishnapatnam, to be blended with high-grade domestic lumps, the officials add.
In the current year, Odisha is expected to continue as the largest producer of iron-ore, accounting for more than 50% of the country’s total production despite disruptions in mining operations earlier this year.
The Supreme Court last year imposed penalties equivalent to 100% of the value of ore extracted illegally, setting a deadline of December 31, 2017 for payment of the penalties, following which several mines in Odisha were forced to stop production.
Local officials pointed out that most of the mines had settled the penalty payments and were back into production and thereby enabling growth in aggregate production.
Edited by: Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Deputy Editor Online
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