The New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) can expect to handle a million tonnes of iron ore during the current financial year if the ore lying at the port matches the requirements of Friday's Supreme Court order.

The port had handled 8.38 lakh tonnes of iron ore till July 2010 when a ban was imposed by the Karnataka Government. Around 2.3 lakh tonnes of iron ore was lying at the port at this point.

When contacted port authorities said they could answer the queries only after getting certified copies of the Supreme Court order in this matter.

Sources in shipping circles told Business Line that there is ambiguity on the term ‘cleared' in the court order. “However, common sense says what is struck down from 600 km to port is termed as cleared. There is no attachment of the ore cargo either by the Government or by the Court. So it is presumed to be cleared,” they said, adding that they are awaiting the certified copy of the Supreme Court order in this matter.

However, Mr Shekar Pujari, President of the Association of New Mangalore Port Stevedores, said only a few exporters can export the existing iron ore fine cargoes at the port. Stating that many exporters have small quantities, he said a minimum of 20,000 tonnes of cargo is required to make the consignment exportable.

Ore of different qualities

Asked why the smaller exporters can't come together and export the cargo lying at the port, he said the cargo was of different qualities and different prices. So it could not be combined, he said.

“Our appeal to the Supreme Court and to the Karnataka Government is that they should allow legal mine owners and exporters to continue exports. New Mangalore Port is doing the export legally. A number of measures are in place to check the export of illegal cargo from New Mangalore Port. The Karnataka Government and Supreme Court should give permission for legal export,” he added.

The New Mangalore Port handled 5.20 million tonnes of iron ore during 2009-10 as against 8.12 million tonnes in 2008-09.