| BHUBANESWAR, India, June 2
BHUBANESWAR, India, June 2 India's top iron ore
producing state Odisha expects output in 2014/15 to hold around
last year's level as it fast-tracks licence renewals for mines
shut down by a court order, a top official said on Monday.
India's Supreme Court ordered the closure of nearly half of
Odisha's 56 mines two weeks ago due to the non-renewal of
years-old leases. The closed mines accounted for about half of
the state's output of more than 70 million tonnes last fiscal
The court had asked Odisha to decide on the renewals within
six months, but the state has already allowed eight mines
belonging to Tata Steel, Steel Authority of India
and Odisha Mining Corp (OMC) to resume operations,
Odisha's mines director Deepak Kumar Mohanty told Reuters.
"The brief halt in operations will not have much of an
impact on our yearly output," said Mohanty. "We'll be able to
make up for it."
Fearing a prolonged shutdown as in some other states, some
steelmakers such as JSW Steel have bought low-quality
iron ore from Goa, which usually exports most of its output to
China, while others had considered imports to maintain supplies.
Of the mines that have been allowed to reopen, four belong
to Tata Steel, three to SAIL and one to OMC. The mines produced
about 20 million tonnes last fiscal year. Mohanty said Odisha
was expediting renewals for the rest of the mines.
If iron ore was needed to cover any shortages, India's
largest producer NMDC Ltd said late last month it was
ready to raise sale volumes by 5 million tonnes above its target
of 32 million tonnes for this fiscal year.
Restrictions aimed at curbing illegal mining in Goa and
Karnataka states have choked the iron ore industry, with India's
production falling to 136 million tonnes in 2013/14 from a peak
of 218 million in 2009/10, according to industry lobby group
India was once the world's third largest exporter of iron
ore, sending out more than 117 million tonnes in the fiscal year
through March 2010. It slipped to No. 10 last fiscal year, with
exports estimated at less than 20 million tonnes.
(Additional reporting by Krishna N Das in NEW DELHI; Editing by