Iron ore cargo helped 12 state-owned ports maintain volumes in FY20

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on April 09, 2020

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Iron ore, including pellets, handled by the 12 state-owned ports, jumped 35.17 per cent in FY20 to 54.996 million tonnes (mt) from 40.687 mt in FY19, as miners in the eastern region liquidated their stocks at “whatever price they could fetch” before their permits ended on March 31.

The iron ore loadings, in fact, helped these 12 ports, which have a market share of about 55 per cent of India’s external trade shipped by the sea route every year, to sail past combined volumes of 699.10 mt recorded in FY19.

The dozen ports ended FY20 with a total volume of 704.822 mt, notching a paltry growth of 0.82 per cent over FY19.

Apart from iron ore and finished fertiliser shipments, which grew by 12.69 per cent to 9.305 mt (8.257 mt), no other cargo segment posted double digit growth in FY20.

Thermal and steam coal, the other main cargo shipped through the dozen ports, declined 12.72 per cent to 92.410 mt in FY20 from 105.880 mt in FY19.

The Federation of Indian Mineral Industries, a lobby group, estimates that 137 mt of iron ore were lying at the mine heads located in Orissa and Jharkhand in April 2019, of which 85 mt were in Orissa alone.

Paradip Port Trust benefited the most from this last-minute rush by miners to dispose of their iron ore stock before they surrendered their permits on completing the term.

Paradip Port Trust handed 22.954 mt of iron ore in FY20, from 12.206 mt in FY19.Visakhapatnam Port Trust handled 14.386 mt of iron ore in FY20, from 10.242 mt in FY19.

Mumbai Port Trust handled 7.028 in FY 20 (7.266 mt), and New Mangalore Port Trust 4.989 mt in FY20 (4.624 mt). Kolkata Port Trust handled 3.179 mt of iron ore, against 4,74,000 tonnes in FY19.

“The growth in iron ore volumes at Paradip Port Trust was due to both coastal movement as well as exports,” a Shipping Ministry official said.

The coastal movement was led by the JSW Group, which shipped the steel-making commodity from its mines in the East to Mumbai, for use by Dolvi Steel Plant.

“Substantial volumes of iron ore were exported to China by entities such as B S Minerals, Essel Mines, Rungta Mines, S M Niryat and Kashvi International,” he said.

“This (exports) is not something which is going to be regular,” says R K Sharma, Secretary-General, FIMI. India’s iron ore exports have become unattractive due to tax issues, he said.

“All the iron ore mines, including 26 in Orissa, were coming up for re-auction. So, the existing operators were liquidating their stocks before they handed over the mines to the new licensees,” Sharma said.

The surge in iron ore shipments helped Eastern coast ports such as Paradip, Visakhapatnam, Dhamra and Gangavaram to deliver strong volume growth in FY20.

However, ports such as New Mangalore and Mormugao suffered due to the ban on export of the steel making commodity from Karnataka and Goa.

Mormugao reported a drop in iron ore loadings to 1.710 mt in FY20 from 4.181 mt in FY19.

Published on April 09, 2020

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