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Allow market forces to decide on iron ore export: Sachin Seghal

Even as the union steel ministry has ruled out banning iron ore exports from Goa and the state is awaiting Shah panel report on illegal mining, an industry expert today said the government should allow the market forces to decide the issue.

"Instead of banning exports, the government should regulate mining by allowing the bonafide concessionaires to continue to operate," said Sachin Seghal, director of OreTeam, a research firm on iron and steel.

It is believed that Justice M B Shah committee's report, expected early next month, may recommend a ban on iron ore exports from Goa. The state contributed over 40 million tons of the 120 million tons of ore exported from the country last year.

"What we need is not a ban...instead the government should stringently implement existing regulations on one hand and act like an enabler of this crucial activity (of legal mining) on the other, as ore exports contribute considerably to forex revenue and are critical to Goan economy," he said.

Goa, the largest contributor of the iron ore exports, ships out its entire output (54 million tons last year) as domestic steel companies do not buy it due to poor quality. India was the third largest exporter of iron ore last year, mostly to China, Japan and Australia.

Saying that country's proven 25 billion tons of iron ore reserves can last for decades, he said the exports make sense as the country does not have the technology to process the low-quality Goan ore.

Ore mining in Goa is over half-a-century old, but of late it has attracted a lot of illegal operators as prices shot up due to excessive demand from China.

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