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EghtesadOnline: A recent Supreme Court of India's decision to cancel all iron ore mining leases in an ore-rich state can open the way for Iranian ore miners to increase their share in the Chinese market.

In its Feb. 7 verdict, the Supreme Court canceled the second renewal of all the 88 iron ore mining leases renewed by the state government in Goa. No mining activities will continue in the state after March 15, the top court decided, ordering the government to grant the leases afresh through auctions.

The verdict came on a plea filed by non-government organization Goa Foundation, with the petitioners claiming that mining undertaken through theses leases was illegal, Bloomberg reported. 

The court order will impact the annual 20-million-ton capacity, Financial Tribune reported.

According to SteelMint, iron ore export from Goa is expected to decrease over the new verdict and Chinese steelmakers could shift to Iran for iron ore procurement.

Iran shipped around 19.4 million tons of iron ore to China in 2017, registering a growth of 34% year-on-year and becoming the sixth largest supplier of the material to the world’s largest importer.

Top ore exporters to China in 2017 were Australia, Brazil, South Africa, India, Ukraine and Iran respectively, according to Chinese customs statistics shared with Financial Tribune by senior market analyst, Keyvan Jafari Tehrani.

In 2016, China resumed iron ore imports from India’s Goa, which affected Iran's iron ore exports. Chinese imports from Goa shot up dramatically from 0.21% in 2015 to 1.51% in 2016 and 2% in 2017. This left a limited scope for Iranian ore exporters, as their share of the Chinese market dropped from 2.74% in 2013 to 1.82% in 2017.

Up until 2011, India was the third largest exporter of iron ore to China, with Goa making up about 70% of total shipments.

Mining in Goa was halted in October 2012, however, as the apex court suspended all iron ore mining and transportation in the state, following a report stating that millions of tons of iron ore were mined illegally.

The Supreme Court lifted the ban in 2015 and operations resumed in Goa by the same 88 leaseholders accused of illegal mining.

India’s plan to scrap export tariffs on above 58% content iron ore was also expected to boost the country’s shipment to China. Goa’s exporters were to be one of the main beneficiaries of the decision, as they primarily export low-grade ore to China.

China continued to be the largest destination of Indian iron ore exports in 2017. It made up 82% or 16.23 million tons of total iron ore exported from India last year. 

Other major destinations were Japan with 2.62 million tons and South Korea with 610,000 tons, SteelMint data showed.

Indian iron ore exports have seen a fourfold increase in 2017, with shipments reaching 24.35 million tons compared with 6.04 million tons in 2016, showing a 303% YOY growth.

Goa shipments in 2017 also registered a 278% growth to reach 14.56 million tons compared with 3.86 million tons the year before.

 

Iran iron ore Iran Iron Ore Exporters Goa Mining Halt