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BANGALORE: The central government is planning to ban iron ore exports or restrict the quantum of export to protect the rich mineral wealth of the country, Steel Minister Mr Virbhadra Singh said on Saturday.

Central govt mulling ban on iron ore exports

BANGALORE: The central government is planning to ban iron ore exports or restrict the quantum of export to protect the rich mineral wealth of the country, Steel Minister Mr Virbhadra Singh said on Saturday.

"We will ban iron ore exports. If that is not possible, we will restrict it," Mr Singh told reporters at the Jindal steel plant in Tornagal near Bellary, about 320 km from here.

Endorsing the Karnataka government’s decision to ban iron ore export from the state, he said it was imperative to ensure that the mineral reserves were first used for value addition to produce steel.

The government has set a production target of 140 million tonnes of steel for this fiscal (2010-11) to meet the growing demand for the metal by multiple sectors.

Welcoming the state ban on iron ore export, JSW Steel Ltd vice-chairman and managing director, Mr Sajjan Jindal said the government should encourage setting up new steel plants for first use of the rich iron ore in the region. "The ban should be in phases of five years so that new steel plants can come up to utilise the iron ore for value addition," Mr Jindal said.

In a related development, the central government has proposed to set up a national mineral regulatory authority to monitor mining-related activities and curb illegal mining. The decision is based on the suggestion by the Group of Ministers headed by the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee.

"The government has decided to introduce the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill in the current session of Parliament," Law Minister Mr M Veerappa Moily told reporters here.

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