HDK seek Modi's intervention on iron ore import
Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking intervention in iron import and increase basic customs duty on the mineral.
In the letter, the CM said Karnataka was third-largest producer of iron ore — a key raw material used in steelmaking — and the steel producers are importing the ore at a time when the country is facing a large trade deficit.
"The status of Karnataka iron ore is unique with the Supreme Court capping the annual production and restricting the sale among end-users only through e-auction, the letter dated November 19 said.
"This has led to a situation where a huge quantity put up for sale on e-auction platform remains unsold. We see steel companies are importing a huge quantity of iron ore...when the country is facing large trade deficit," it said.
Seeking the PM's intervention, Kumaraswamy said he requests to suitably raise the import duty on iron ore and pellets.
The "very low" import duty of 2.5 per cent encourages steel players to go for import rather than utilising the local ore, he said.
"The state has already lost more than Rs 600 crore during last financial year and the current year because of import... The unsold stock may lead to the closure of mine operations," the CM stated.
Earlier, apex mineral body Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) sought government support to open up Karnataka's iron-ore rich mining industry, which cannot export the mineral due to the Supreme Court ruling.
In this regard, it also wrote letters to the ministries of steel, mines, and commerce, and the Niti Aayog.
The body requested the government to take immediate steps to encourage export of iron ore from the state and also demanded to increase the duty on iron ore and its pellets to 30 per cent to check imports.
FIMI also said that a stock of 40 million tonnes mined iron ore was lying unsold in Karnataka.
(With inputs from agencies.)