Low iron ore output to stall port, railway projects in Karnataka | SupportBiz


Low iron ore output to stall port, railway projects in Karnataka

A ban and now restrictions on iron-ore mining in Karnataka, in effect for more than a year, could halt the development of five infrastructure projects in that state, projects that would help transport and export iron ore from India, the third largest exporter of the commodity in 2011, according to an industry body.

Output of iron ore from Karnataka, where 18 mines have been allowed to resume operations, could be insignificant. Therefore, the development of two ports on the Karnataka coastline; upgradation at a third and the laying of two railway lines within the state could be put on the back burner as there is no pressing need for the same, according to the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI).

“The Honnavar and Tadri port projects that would be able to handle iron ore; the delayed Talaguppe-Honnaver and Hubli-Ankola railway lines, both connecting the hinterland with the coast and ports; the mechanized iron ore handling facility at Mangalore port are all virtually shut,” said Basant Podder, vice president, FIMI.

In September, the country’s apex court relaxed the blanket ban on iron ore mining, imposed over allegations of illegal mining and environmental damage. “Mining leases at five or six mines will expire in a few months. But re-starting operations at a mine is a mammoth task and requires several clearances, and the entire process could take about a year, adding to the industry’s woes.” Poddar told SupportBiz.  

Talaguppa and Honnaver, are some 70 kms apart. Hubli and Ankola are some 140 kms away from each other. Former prime minister A.B.Vajpayee laid the foundation stone for the Hubli-Ankola railway line ten years ago.

India, in 2011, much before the mining bans, exported around 100 million tons. Half of this was from Goa, where all mining activity has been banned.

The country’s iron ore production is expected to drop to around 130-140 million tons during the 2012-13 financial year, as compared to 170 million tons in the previous fiscal, according to FIMI data.