New Delhi: India will not ban or limit exports of iron ore but will adopt “appropriate fiscal measures" to conserve the steel-making raw material, the junior steel and mines minister said on Monday.

Action against illegal mining has sharply cut production of iron ore in the country at a time when international prices have halved, prompting Indian companies such as JSW Steel Ltd to import heavily.

Steel companies have regularly urged the government to either ban the export of high-quality iron ore or increase the export duty from the current 30% to discourage overseas sales. But minister Vishnu Deo Sai ruled out any ban on overseas sales from what used to be the third largest iron ore exporter.

“The government has decided that although conservation of iron ore resources is of paramount importance, the same may not be achieved by banning or capping export of iron ore but by taking recourse to appropriate fiscal measures," Sai said in a statement.