The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM), the industry body, on Sunday welcomed the Karnataka government’s decision to ban iron ore export, but emphasised that the State should ensure it was enforced fully.

“We welcome the decision to ban export of iron ore but it must be enforced strictly” D. S. Rawat, Secretary General Assocham told PTI on Sunday.

“No illegal exploitation of any mineral resources should be permitted”, he said and lamented that India exported the precious raw material and imported finished good.

“We are depleting our own natural resources by doing so”, he said pointing out that China, which imported iron ore from various countries, including India was preserving its own natural wealth and using the wealth of others to fuel its industries. Nearly 85 per cent of iron ore from India was exported to China, he said.

The body had favoured a delegation from West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka to meet the Prime Minister and seek support for a total ban on iron ore export and other mineral resources.

The focus should be on generating jobs here and inviting investments to India and not exporting raw material outside, which could be damaging in the long run.

The chambers had suggested that the ban on these exports be carried out in a phased manner going by the plea of mining firms that lakhs were involved in the industry and it was question of their livelihood.

He said domestic consumption capacity could be increased in a phased manner so that by 10 years all ore produced could be consumed in the domestic market.

On whether Indian industry had the technology to use fine iron ore, he said several firms had the required technology in place and various firms could import technology gradually.

Karnataka, the second-biggest producer of iron ore, banned iron ore exports and transport to other States in July following pressure from the opposition relating to illegal mining and export of iron ore.

In the last 10 years, over 30 million tonnes of iron ore were reportedly illegally mined and exported from Karnataka.