India to investigate cartel activities by iron-ore miners – by Ajoy K Das (MiningWeekly – March 14, 2016)

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KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) – India’s Mines Ministry has ordered an investigation into possible cartel activities among merchant iron-ore miners, following the build-up of large stocks as steel producers and pellet manufacturers face supply shortages.

According to an official in the Ministry, mining advisory body Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) had been directed to probe charges of cartel behaviour. An Investigation had started in the eastern Indian coastal province of Odisha.

Several user industries have complained to the Ministry that even as stockpiles across the country had risen to some 125-million tonnes, most merchant miners were not taking any measures to liquidate the stocks at pitheads, while also reducing production in order to keep prices at auctions at a higher level than normal demand-supply dynamics would warrant.

IBM has been directed to conduct an extensive study into existing stocks, levels of production over the past months, sales negotiated and offerings at auctions, and prices, as part of investigations to establish the veracity of charges of cartel activities among miners, the official said.

It has been claimed by pellet manufacturers that attempts to influence prices by limiting sales volumes despite large stockpiles became rampant soon after the national budget, which did not reduce the existing 30% export tax on high-grade lumps and fines.

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