Chinese ban to hit Indian iron ore exports

BEIJING: Nearly half of India’s iron ore exports to China are in serious danger of being wiped out. The local government has imposed a ban on import of low grade iron ore while major Chinese companies are buying up ore mines with two billion worth of reserves in Africa.

“The ban will surely have an effect because about 50% of our exports are low grade iron ore,” Royston Machado, an industry consultant working jointly with China Inspection and Quarantine, said. India sold 107 million tonnes accounting for 18% of Chinese imports in 2009.

The ban came into effect after the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) advised ore buyers at a conference to stop buying low grade ores. “CISA has not yet issued a formal notification but the ban is already having an effect,” Machado said.

The ban has not caused uproar because businesses in India are still not feeling the pinch. China has more than two months of stocks and the offtake from steel mills is low. Another reason is that the Goa port, which ships nearly half of Indian ores to China, is closed for monsoon.

“A clear picture would emerge after the Goa port reopens in October and there is a strong demand. Indian exports would be seriously reduced unless the government reconsiders the ban,” sources said. The move was followed by a decision by the National Development and Reform Commission giving a green signal for the purchase of two African mines with reserves totaling 2 billion tonnes.

Three Chinese companies including the Wuhan Iron & Steel, are jointly buying a mine with reserves worth 800 million tonnes at Soalala in Madagascar. Wuhan has also purchased controlling stakes in the Bong Iron Ore company based in Liberia. Bong has proven reserves of over 1.3 billion tonnes.

Source : TNN. 27/05/10

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