Tough to ban iron ore exports: Sharma

Bhubaneswar: India`s Commerce and Industries Minister Anand Sharma has said it would be difficult to impose a ban on iron ore exports as it would affect the mining sector and livelihood of many, besides causing environmental hazards.

"It would be tough to put a halt to export as storing huge volumes of iron ores for long would be environmentally hazardous," Sharma said, responding to a query on the demand for imposing a ban from different quarters including Odisha government.

Mining activities generate jobs for thousands of poor people and stopping surplus mining would affect their livelihood, he said here Saturday night.

Stating that the country is at present producing 230 to 235 million tonnes of iron ore per annum, the minister said, only 92 to 95 million tonnes of the produced ores are consumed in the domestic sector, making the rest exportable surplus.

"Let us see how it can be regulated in a firm manner to check bad practices and illegal exports that have crept in. It will take time for India to consume the entire iron ores produced by it," Sharma said.

Underlining the need for adopting a balanced and judicious view, he said, "We will not take extreme steps. What is right will be done."

At present, export of iron ore with Fe content up to 64 per cent is freely allowed and the government is in favour of value addition, Sharma said. Favouring a review of the Fe content of exportable iron ore, he said the country is now acquiring technology for improving quality of low grade iron ore.