India Court Allows Restricted Sale of Iron Ore in Goa State – by Biman Mukherji (Wall Street Journal – November 11, 2013)

Ruling That Limits Sale to Domestic Market Offers Little Relief, Industry Executives Say

NEW DELHI—India’s Supreme Court Monday allowed restricted sale of iron ore in the western state of Goa, a decision that industry executives say would offer little relief to the local mining industry.

The country’s top court allowed the auction of around 11 million metric tons from the ore that had already been mined before the mining ban was imposed in 2012 because of environmental concerns. According to the ruling, the material must be sold on the domestic market.

There aren’t many refineries in India that can process the low-grade iron ore produced in Goa. The state, India’s largest producer of iron ore, therefore exported most of the ore it produced until the ban was imposed—Goa used to account for half of India’s iron-ore exports.

“This is a setback,” Glenn Kalvampara, a spokesman of the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters’ Association, said, referring to the court’s decision allowing only local sales. “Goa’s ore goes only in one direction: exports.”

According to another executive, it wasn’t immediately clear, and miners were waiting for clarity on, whether the ore would eventually be allowed to export after domestic auctions.

“Who will buy these grades for domestic consumption? This decision will help only if exports are allowed,” said Basant Poddar, vice chairman of the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries.

India was the world’s third-largest iron-ore exporter until two years ago. It is expected to turn into a net importer this fiscal year ending in March as domestic output has halved after environmental concerns prompted legal restrictions on mining in states including Goa.

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