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13. November 2007

India should conserve iron ore

New Delhi - With the country’s steelmakers embarking on a major capacity expansion, the steel ministry on Monday made out a case for conservation of iron ore saying it was imperative to make the sector competitive vis-a-vis that of China’s.

“China’s advantage is its coking coal reserve which is expected to last for about 80 years, while India’s advantage is its quality iron ore reserves.

China strictly conserves its coking coal. It should not happen at any juncture that Indian steel industry is made to survive on imports of both coking coal and iron ore,” steel secretary R S Pandey said. The steel sector would require about 138 MT of iron ore by 2011-12 and if the production level reaches 191 MT by 2019-20, then the country would need about 320 MT of iron ore, he said. “So there is clearly a case for conserving our ore reserves.”

Pandey’s comments assume importance amid reports that the government is on the verge of finalising the National Mineral Policy (NMP), wherein it is seeking to address the concerns of steelmakers who have been vociferously demanding capping export of iron ore to the fructify their expansion plans. “If it happens that the country was being constrained to import ore, then such a disadvantage would be painful for the Indian steel industry,” Pandey observed.

Implementation of the investments announced by both domestic and foreign steel giants, the country is likely to produce 124 million tonne (MT) of the alloy by 2011-12. “Our consumption has witnessed a phenomenal growth of about 11 per cent.

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