The Central Empowered Committee (CEC), set up by the Supreme Court on mining matters, has recommended that the restriction on export of iron ore pellets from Karnataka be removed, which the Union steel ministry and state government also support.
The SC has for some years been deciding how much ore may be produced in Karnataka and the mode of sale, after a spate of illegal mining cases.
The CEC has said allowing pellet export would generate more demand for ore produced in Karnataka, which has seen a slump. In 2017-18, the cumulative quantity offered for sale was 44.6 million tonnes (mt); sales were about 30 mt.
There are seven ore pellet units in Karnataka, with total production capacity of about 10.3 mt annually. Of this, close to 1.4 mt goes for captive consumption; the rest is available for the market. Earlier, the apex court said export of pellets could be thought about when ore production from Karnataka mines reached 25 mt a year; this has since been crossed.
The CEC notes of the 85 sponge iron manufacturers in and around Karnataka, 17 have closed and 16 coastal-based units primarily rely on imported ore lumps. With export not allowed, the other 52 units are the main market for pellets.Centre has already reduced the export duty on pellets to nil, to encourage shipment.