New Delhi: India's iron ore exports declined by a staggering 68.27 percent during April-January period of the ongoing fiscal to 163.47 lakh tonnes, industry body FIMI on Wednesday said.
The country had exported 515.19 lakh tonnes of iron ore in the corresponding period in the last financial year.
There was not a single month during the first ten months of the fiscal when exports were in the positive terrain. In January 2013, exports plummeted by 85.54 percent to 7.96 lakh tonnes compared to 55.04 lakh tonnes a year ago.
The biggest fall in exports, however, took place in October 2012 when it fell by a whopping 95.14 percent to 2.21 lakh tonnes from 45.49 lakh tonnes in the year ago period.
The narrowest fall was recorded in April at 35.84 percent to 52.68 lakh tonnes from 82.11 lakh tonnes a year ago.
The iron ore sector has been struggling to cope up with several issues including illegal mining and ban on mining in Karnataka and Goa -- two major iron ore producing states.
A ban on mining in Karnataka was imposed about one and half years back and mining in Goa was banned in October last year.
India mostly exports fines, a variety of iron ore having lower iron content. This variety constituted 92 percent of the total iron ore exports in 2011-12. India had exported 600 lakh tonnes of iron ore during the year.
Exports of iron ore are on the wane following 1,200 lakh tonnes recorded in 2009-10 due to a variety of reasons that include higher export duty, which currently stands at 30 percent.
The government had in last year's Budget reduced customs duty on plant and machinery for setting up or substantial expansion of iron ore pellet plants or iron ore beneficiation plants from 7.5 percent to 2.5 percent to preserve iron ore and discourage exports.
Barring a private sector steel firm, other domestic steel-makers do not use fines for iron making though fines inevitably come out at the time of mining lumps.
First Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 15:09