Mumbai: Iron ore production may fall below 100 million tonnes (MT), while exports may dive to a low of 7-8 MT in the current financial year due to delay in opening of mines in Karnataka coupled with the continuing ban in Goa, an official of the mineral industry body Fimi (Federation of Indian Mineral Industries) said on Friday.

The country had produced 115 MT iron ore last fiscal, while exports stood at around 15 MT, which in the peak days of FY08 were close to 120 MT.

“Things have not improved despite the direction of the Supreme Court to open mines in Karnataka. So, production in the current fiscal is likely to be below 100 MT and exports may be as low as 7-8 MT," Fimi vice-president Basant Poddar told PTI from Bangalore. He further said things are moving very slowly in Karnataka in giving renewal to mines despite the Supreme Court (SC) direction.

Earlier this year, the SC had categorised the mines into A, B and C category in Karnataka with direction to open them after completion of necessary procedure. However, the slow pace of reopening in the state along with the still continuing complete ban in Goa will impact availability of the raw material in the country.

On imports, Poddar said the country may not witness higher imports in this fiscal due to subdued demand from steel industry.

Talking about the opening of mines, a miner from Goa said things are pretty uncertain as of now in the state. However, despite fall in production, prices of the commodity will remain at lower levels.

“Domestic ore prices have fallen by 25-30% in the recent past. We don’t see prices rising due to low steel demand," Angel Broking senior analyst for metals and mining Bhavesh Chauhan said.

Globally, iron ore prices have fallen to $110 per tonne of late from $130 in June on the back of slowing demand from China.

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