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SC reserves verdict on mining companies’ pleas to lift ban on iron ore export from Karnataka

The Indian Steel Association has opposed the petitions by mining companies, saying allowing exports will benefit Chinese steelmakers.

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New Delhi: Steel mills in India are objecting to a petition at the nation’s top court to restart exports from a southern state, fearing lower supplies to the local market.

The Supreme Court on Monday completed the hearing and reserved its verdict on petitions by mining companies, including Vedanta Ltd., to lift a ban on the export of iron ore extracted from the state of Karnataka. The court has not given a date for the ruling.

India’s steel producers have faced raw material shortages since 2011 after courts found illegal iron ore mining and imposed successive bans in the top producing states of Karnataka, Odisha and Goa. While the restrictions have eased in some states, miners in Karnataka are mandated to sell the ore only locally and subject to output caps. India exports mostly low-grade ore, mainly to China.

The Indian Steel Association opposed the petitions by miners as allowing exports will benefit Chinese steelmakers, the industry body’s lawyer Kapil Sibal said during the hearing in the court.

“There will be nothing left for us. Why would you allow exports to China? Indian steel industry should benefit instead of someone else,” Sibal said.

The nation’s federal government has supported lifting of the ban on exports saying all states have to be treated equally, according to the government’s lawyer K.M. Natraj.

Mining companies are also seeking scrapping of Karnataka’s rule that allows the sale of ore only through e-auctions. They are also demanding easing of the 35-million-ton cap on maximum amount of ore allowed to be mined from the state.- Bloomberg

Also read: Mineral production rises by 13.2 per cent in first 11 months of 2021-22


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