Thomas Kutty Abraham, Bloomberg
Mumbai: Exports of iron ore from India, which has the world’s fifth-largest reserves of the mineral, may tumble 32% this month after the government imposed a tax on shipments, the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries said.
Indian companies including Sesa Goa Ltd exported 4.98 million tons between March 1 and yesterday, and may ship a further 2.18 million tons by the end of the month, R.K. Sharma, secretary-general of the association, said today. Exports of the steelmaking ingredient totaled 10.6 million tons in March 2006.
Indian miners have said the tax of Rs300 a ton will boost sales for Australian producers. The government wants to curb exports to ensure there are sufficient supplies to meet demand from steelmakers including Arcelor Mittal and Posco, which are planning to spend $21 billion on plants in India.
Shipments of iron ore from the mines to Indian ports “have completely stopped,” Sharma said by phone from New Delhi. “Whatever is going out at the moment, was already moved to the ports” before the tax was imposed on 1 March, he said.
Sixteen steelmakers in China had suspended imports of Indian iron ore because of the tax, the Shanghai Securities News reported today, citing no one. The decision by the steelmakers, which were not named, came after they met the China Iron and Steel Association, the newspaper said.
Sinosteel Corp., China’s second-biggest iron-ore trader, had stopped buying India iron ore because of the levy, Hong Sen Wang, managing director of the company’s Indian unit, said on 7 March. The tax made Australian ore more competitive, he said.
“We’ve not heard anything yet from Chinese buyers,” D.K. Sahni, the federation’s president, said in an interview today. Still, “this could well be a move to put pressure on Indian suppliers and government.”
Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, who unveiled the new tax in his budget last month, said 16 March that the government would consider fresh comments from the industry and may “take a suitable decision on the issue.”
“We are meeting everyone in the government who matters to press for a rollback of the duty,” Sharma said.
Exports of iron ore from India totaled 85.6 million tons between April and February, 9% more than a year earlier, according to data collected by the federation.