The mining sector has been much in the news, thanks to the CAG report and its sharp slowdown in growth. As Table 1 shows, the supply of coal has only marginally increased each year of the past five, causing a chronic shortfall. Meanwhile, the production of iron ore — as visible in the same table – first plateaued and then took a sharp and worrying dip, alongside Supreme Court sanctions on iron-ore mining. As Table 2 shows, this has had an impact on the prices of both commodities. While coal prices are partially controlled, iron ore has seen a steep increase.
Worldwide, prices have been high too — incentivising illegal, royalty-evading mining and export of iron ore — as Table 3 shows, though they have come down of late, a dip not seen in domestic price indices. Imports of coal, as Table 4 shows, have also increased following domestic shortfalls. The same table also shows how legal exports of iron ore have been oddly volatile in a time of high international prices.
What of industry stakeholders? As Table 5 shows, the coal public-sector units have continued to make steady profits, though profit growth has been slow for the past few years. Which states are particularly dependent on mining income? The states’ royalty collection for non-coal major minerals – in which iron ore is a major component – is shown in Table 6. Note how low down Karnataka is in the list. Odisha dominates royalty collection, and the mines ministry’s estimate of mineral production by value, too, shown in Table 7. In terms of coal resources, however, Jharkhand is at the top of the list in Table 8. (Click for charts)