India's top iron ore exporting state wants to halve fresh output
NEW DELHI, Nov 7 (Reuters) - India's top iron ore exporting state of Goa hopes the Supreme Court will soon lift a year-long ban on mining but aims to rein in production to ease pressure on roads and infrastructure, the state's regulator of mining licenses said on Thursday.
Bans in Goa and an adjacent state over the past two years have cut to a trickle India's exports to top market China, with shipments falling 75 percent to just over 8 million tonnes over January to September, Chinese data show.
The top court, which suspended mining last year after a federal panel found several violations, such as firms mining without licences or outside lease areas, is expected to rule on Monday whether mining can resume, Prasanna Acharya told Reuters.
"It's up to the court to decide, but we have proposed a cap of 20 million tonnes on fresh extraction, compared with about 42 million earlier," said Acharya, head of the government body that grants mineral licenses in India's southern state of Goa.
"We are seeking an overall cap of 45 million tonnes for exports, including fresh extraction and recovery from dumps."
Goa, which formerly exported its entire output of iron ore, has more than 700 million tonnes of dumps, accumulated over years and containing recoverable ore, a state mineral policy document says.
The dumps typically consist of small quantities of ore that cannot be retrieved easily or economically. They were stored until "technology became available whereby the ore could be recovered economically," according to the policy document.
Some analysts see a gradual recovery in Indian exports over the next two years, limiting the impact on the global supply chain and on prices, although the pace will be modest and far from a record of more than 117 million tonnes set in the fiscal year through March 2010.
In the third-biggest exporting state of Karnataka, adjacent to Goa, shipments had been banned since July 2010. Although a 2011 ban on mining was revoked in April, operations have resumed in only about a dozen of the state's 115 mines.
Many Karnataka miners still await forest clearances, the renewal of mining licenses and removal of other obstacles. Miners in Goa, too, fear months could pass before they can begin operations, even if the top court orders resumption soon.
(Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr in SINGAPORE; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)