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Miners take ore battle to steel firms

Ishita Ayan Dutt & Kausik Datta  |  Kolkata/Mumbai 

Ahead of a meeting of the group of ministers (GoM) on the National Mineral Policy (NMP), the mining lobby is making a last-ditch effort to prevent curbs on iron ore exports.
It has shot off a letter to Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan alleging that the steel companies, demanding a ban on export of iron ore, are themselves exporting the ore.
The GoM, which is meeting on July 6, is expected to make its views on iron ore export public. RK Sharma, the secretary general of the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (Fimi), confirmed sending the letter.
He said the steel companies, which were urging for a ban on export of iron ore, were directly or indirectly exporting iron ore.
The letter says steel majors "" Tata Steel, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), JSPL and JSW Steel "" have directly or indirectly exported either iron ore fines or calibrated lump ore (CLO) in the recent past.
Sharma said the letter was written to draw Paswan's attention to the fact that while the steel companies were protesting against iron ore exports, they were themselves exporting the ore, either directly or through sale in the domestic market through traders.
However, the letter mentioned that the Tatas had stopped direct exports.

The steel ministry has forwarded the letter to SAIL chairman SK Roongta, Tata Steel Managing Director B Muthuraman, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of JSW Steel Sajjan Jindal, and Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of JSPL Naveen Jindal, asking for a reply.

A SAIL spokesperson said the company had not received any letter and that SAIL exported only 25,000 tonnes of micro iron ore fines, which were of no use, through a tender. The tender was floated by Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Ltd in 2005-06.
Seshagiri Rao, director (finance), JSW Steel, said the company exported surplus pellets (value-added iron ore) around one-and-a-half years ago. Rao said the company had not received any letter.
"If it comes, we will respond," he said.

First Published: Thu, July 05 2007. 00:00 IST