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India will run out of iron ore

Chief Conservator of Forests, Lake Development Authority, and principal investigator of illegal mining in Karnataka and member of the Central Empowered Committee Dr Uday Veer Singh warned that “Iron ore deposits in the country will soon become like the gold in the Kolar Gold Fields, which is almost depleted now.”

Dr Singh also on the panel of Justice MB Shah Commission of Enquiry in illegal mining in the ore-rich states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Goa and was the principal investigator in the Lokayukta reports on illegal mining in Karnataka said that 20 to 25% of mining in India is reportedly “illegal” with rampant proxy mining in ore rich states.

Dr Singh said that “We are heading towards an ecological disaster. India has barely three per cent of the total iron ore reserves in the world. If the present trend of illegal mining continues then in the future we will be left with no or low-grade iron ore and to make use of it for steel production; we would require technology, which would create environmental havoc. The dry technology would aggravate air pollution and wet technology would impact water and land.”

He added that as an impact of illegal mining; the water table has been irreversibly altered, impacting the surrounding vegetation in the mining regions, all of which are in the forest areas. Quoting the figures available with the Union Ministry of Mines, he said the country has 25 billion tonnes of iron ore as against 800 billion tonnes worldwide, which constitutes to around 3% of the world reserves.

Dr Singh added that “Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Goa have some of the best reserves with the quality of iron ore varying from 55per cent Fe and 64 to 65% Fe. We require 200 million tonnes of iron ore annually for our steel production. Assuming that the GDP continues to grow between 7 and 8%, the steel consumption has to go up by 5-6 per cent since high consumption of steel is an important contributing factor to the GDP. By 2020 we would need 400 million tonnes of iron ore to produce 200 million tonnes of steel. The present quality iron ore reserves will not last us more than 50 years. In some states it may not go beyond 15 to 20 years.”

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