Stopping short of recommending a ban,the Planning Commission has asked the government to impose quantitative restrictions on exports of iron ore from the country. The suggestion is contrary to the governments aim to lower the financial barriers in exports of the mineral to help reduce the current account deficit.
The MB Shah Commission of Inquiry,set up by the Centre in November,2010 has,in its recent interim report to the mines ministry on illegal mining in Goa and Orissa,has recommended that the government should ban exports of these ores from the country to save the mineral for the long-term raw material security of domestic steel industry. But the mines ministry in its comments has refused to endorse the suggestion saying that if exports are fully curbed then it may amount to violation of the countrys Exim policy.
Refusing to agree with the ministrys views,the commission said in a note on July 10 to the Cabinet that exports of these minerals and appropriate measures needed to be initiated to contain the same. After the 2011 Supreme Court ban on exports of most categories,shipments of ore plunged to 18 million tonnes in 2012-13 from nearly 168 million tonnes in 2010-11. Before the ban,India was exporting iron ore worth over $7 billion.
Exports of iron ore has for long been a contentious issue between the mining and steel industry. While the miners want unabated exports of ore,the steel firms are opposed to allowing sale of the mineral overseas.