The prices of iron ore produced in Odisha may drop in the coming days as its availability is likely to improve. This follows the State Government’s decision to allow liquidation of stocks of iron ore raised till October 2, 2012, according to sources. An estimated 100 million tonnes of the ore is believed to have piled up in different mines in Odisha ever since the State Government clamped down restrictions on iron ore mining and transportation nearly three years ago following complaints of irregularities. But it is not sure if the entire 100 mt will be suitable for steel making. According to one estimate, only half of it is fit for use.

The present prices of iron ore produced in Odisha range from Rs 1,650 to Rs 2,600 a tonne, depending on the quality and delivery, according to research organisation Steelmint,.

The Department of Steel and Mines, Government of Odisha, has issued an order stating that the standalone mines, which have been allowed to operate under the deemed extension even as they await secondary and subsequent renewals of mining leases, will be eligible to release their stocks raised till October 2, 2012. The new policy guidelines in this regard came into force from October 3, 2012, it is learnt. The Principal Secretary of the department has directed the mining officials to verify the accounts and records to determine properly the actual volumes of stocks held till the cut-off date.

It has been further stipulated that 50 per cent of the stocks of both lumpy ore and the fines have to be sold to standalone mineral-based industries in the State in an equitable manner and at market prices. It has also been made clear that any ore raised on or after October 3, 2012 shall not be sold.

It might be noted that All Odisha Steel Federation, the body of more than 200 steel and sponge iron producers in the State, has been demanding the liquidation of the iron ore stocks built up over the years following the Government restriction. What was the point in creating artificial shortage of the mineral when sufficient stocks of it were available, asked the federation. Even the Shah Commission, inquiring into the whole gamut of issues relating iron ore mining and transportation in major iron ore producing States, is believed to have drawn attention of the Odisha Government to it.

(This article was published on February 14, 2013)
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