The Steel Ministry on Monday called for a “complete ban” on iron ore exports, stating that the mineral is non-renewable like coal and petroleum, and should be preserved.

“It will be good to completely ban iron ore exports as these are non-renewable resources, once you exhaust them, you won’t get them.

“How are coal, gas, and petroleum products different from iron ore? Why don’t we export them? You can’t have different standards,” Steel Secretary Atul Chaturvedi told PTI. Iron ore is the primary input in steel making.

India produced about 230 million tonnes of iron ore in the last fiscal, of which around 106 million tonnes were exported, mainly to China.

“(Iron ore-rich) Karnataka had recently written for ban on iron ore exports. Now, states are themselves asking for banning iron ore exports. The Mining Ministry has to take a call on this. We have been saying that iron ore should not be exported,” he said.

Both the ministries of Steel and Mines have been at loggerheads over the issue of exports of iron ore, on which the latter has been opposing any move to put a blanket ban on the overseas shipments of the mineral.

Mines Minster B.K. Handique had earlier said that banning iron ore exports could render thousands jobless.

Also, the Mines Ministry had said that the country does not possess technology to make steel from iron ore fines and thus the exports should continue. Miners mainly export iron ore fines to China, which is technically equipped to make steel from the powdery variant of iron ore.

However, the Steel Ministry has been pitching for hiking export duty on iron ore and exports of value-added products like steel, which will create jobs in the country.

At present, export duty on iron ore fines is five per cent and on lumps it is 15 per cent. Steel Ministry has also been demanding a flat 20 per cent export duty on both the segments of iron ore.

“We should not be exporter of primary products, we should be exporter of value-added products. Production of value-added products will help in creation of employment here,” he said.