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Iron ore mining ban set to cost Goa exporters China market

Goa's iron ore exporters are wary of losing the promising China market due to the prolonged ban on ore exports following the Supreme Court order.

According to exporters, China, which traditionally bought state's low grade ore, usually blended with the high grade quality, has become suspicious about Goa, as supplies have become uncertain.

'We are on the brink of losing China market. If the ban continues even for little more time then we will lose it forever,' Auduth Timblo, chairman, Fomento Resources, one of the biggest exporters of ore from Goa, said.

'Several new countries arrive into competition, its like a wave,' Timblo said.

Before the apex court ban on export and mining activity, Goa's 90 per cent ore was exported to China, a market for low grade 46 Fe to 59 Fe -- content ore. The state's entire major mineral ore extraction activity was fuelled by demand from China.

Before the ban, India's exports to China were 100 million metric tonnes annually, which has now plummeted to less than 10 mmt per year.

Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA), a body of mineral exporters, has termed the current situation as 'reliability crisis'.

'Goa has been reliable supplier of mineral for China.

But the reliability is getting dented due to current ban,' GMOEA secretary Glenn Kalavampara said, adding that the East Asian country has started looking out for new suppliers.

In addition to the existing markets like Brazil, Australia and South Africa, newer countries like Indonesia, Ukraine, Iran and other South Asian countries have also began eyeing for China's demands. 'The confidence of buyers in China has shaken. I have met several Chinese buyers during international conferences who have expressed their feelings to me towards Goa supplies.

They are not sure because of the current situation,' said Haresh Melwani, Proprietor, H L Nathurmal, one of the oldest mining firms in Goa.

He said since Goa ore is being used for blending purpose, the non-availability of supplies forces steel mills in China to change their blending formula, resulting in heavy loses.

Last year, mining operations in all the 90 mines in Goa were ordered to be halted by the Supreme Court on the basis of the Justice M B Shah Commission report which estimated a whopping Rs 35,000 crore loss to the exchequer due to illegal mining in the last 12 years.

Mining companies had also been restrained from exporting and selling ores, which has already been extracted.
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