Forex loss of Rs 300 crore; truckers, ports, Railways bear the brunt
The Karnataka government’s move to ban the export of iron ore as well as suspension of permits to transport iron ore for export from the mines, to curb illegal exports, has had a ripple effect in the state.
The operations of as many as 30 export-oriented units have come to a grinding halt in Karnataka as over 1 million tonnes of iron ore is lying idle at various ports causing a foreign exchange loss of around Rs 300 crore in the last one week, Basant Poddar, vice chairman, Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI), told Business Standard.
In addition to this, the freight loss to the Indian Railways is in the order of Rs 80 crore and Rs 40 crore for truckers for moving the cargo from the mines to various ports. The loss of wharfage charges for the ports is in excess of Rs 3.5 crore. Apart from this, the state government itself has seen a loss of Rs 30 crore by way of royalty from the mining companies ever since the ban came into effect during the past week.
With effect from July 26, the state banned export of iron ore and stopped issuing permits to transport iron ore for export from July 28 onwards. Presently, 80 mine lease holders are operating in the state and exports about 30 million tonnes of iron ore annually.
Export-oriented units like Mineral Enterprises Ltd, Sesa Goa Limited, Deccan Mining Syndicate Pvt Ltd, KMMI Group, Kuminex Minerals Pvt Ltd, Alfa Exports and Doddannavar Brothers are likely to face penalty from overseas buyers. These companies cannot even sell to the domestic buyers unless they export at least 50 per cent of their total produce in a year, Poddar said.
The companies are losing lakhs of rupees as demurrage charges for holding up ships at the ports. For each day’s delay they have to pay $20,000 as demurrage charges. For example, Sesa Goa Ltd, a leading exporter of iron ore from India, has had one ship at the New Mangalore Port since July 30 for the lack of iron ore.
“We have already seen the diversion of four ships from ports in Karnataka due to the ban on exports. Port officials are not allowing us to load the cargo because of the ban orders,” he said. Presently, 600,000 tonnes of iron ore is lying at the New Mangalore Port, 300,000 tonnes at Belekeri port and 100,000 tonnes at Karwar port.
According to officials at New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT), the only major port in Karnataka, the iron ore cargo movement has seen considerable drop in the last four months due to intermittent ban on movement of iron ore cargo by road by the deputy commissioners of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Hassan districts.
Apart from the economic loss, the ban on iron ore exports is also likely to cause environmental issues. The mining companies are presently stocking over 6 million tonnes of iron ore fines at their mines. “As we cannot store fines for long, it may get into the atmosphere through air and water leading to greater damage to the environment,” Shantesh Gureddi, chairman, FIMI, Southern Region, said.
Most importantly, a huge number of persons employed directly and indirectly will be thrown out of jobs. At least 5,000 people are directly employed in mining operations and another 50,000 in ancillary works. Over 40,000 trucks are engaged on a daily basis to transport the ore.
“If the state government does not revoke its order, the industry will be forced to file a case in the court to get it revoked as the government does not have any power to impose ban,” Gureddi said.