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Iron ore exports issue takes centrestage at mining show

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TECH SUPPORT: Minister of Industry, Tourism & Resources of Australia, Ian Macfarlane, lighting a lamp along with West Bengal Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Kolkata on Wednesday.
TECH SUPPORT: Minister of Industry, Tourism & Resources of Australia, Ian Macfarlane, lighting a lamp along with West Bengal Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Kolkata on Wednesday.

Special Correspondent

International mining and machinery exhibition inaugurated

KOLKATA: The contentious issue of iron ore exports took the centre-stage at the International Mining and Machinery Exhibition (IMME) here with the West Bengal Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, urging the Planning Commission member, Anwarul Hoda, to give the issue a serious thought even as Mr. Hoda reiterated on the need for tackling the issue through export duties rather than an outright ban on exports.

Billed as the Southeast Asia's biggest mining show, the exhibition has attracted a 40-member Australian delegation and a-11 member German presence under the aegis of VDMA (the German Engineering Federation).

Inaugurating the exhibition here on Wednesday, Mr. Bhattacharjee said the Centre should come out with a clear policy on iron ore since States were exporting the mineral without a thought for the domestic steel industry's future. He said the argument that earnings from iron ore exports compensate for oil import bill was not acceptable and the Planning Commission should formulate a policy on this.

While sharing his concern, Mr. Hoda told reporters later here that in an era of economic reforms, licences for iron ore mining were among the few that remained when the regime of licences had ended.

He said that instead of going for quantitative restrictions on iron ore exports, the way forward was to impose an export duty on iron ore and pitch it "at the level that satisfied the domestic steel industry.''

The Australian Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, Ian Macfarlane, said at a press conference later that the West Bengal Chief Minister had sought technology support from Australia for mining deep coal seams. He said talks had already been held with the Coal India for partnership in underground mining. Australia was the world's largest exporter of black coal and second in coking coal, and Indian companies had already started taking advantage of the country's huge mineral reserves, he added.


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