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[BHUBANESWAR] India's biggest iron ore producing state Odisha expects production to fall 23 per cent to 60 million tonnes this fiscal year ending March due to a court shutdown of mines pending their licence renewals, its mines director told Reuters on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court of India ordered the closure of dozens of Odisha's mines in May as their licences had expired, sharply cutting the state's output and raising prices. This has forced steel companies such as JSW Steel to import heavily.
Odisha's April-September production fell more than a quarter to 23 million tonnes from a year ago, Mines Director Deepak Kumar Mohanty said.
Restrictions aimed at curbing illegal mining in Goa and Karnataka states have choked the iron ore industry, with India's production falling to 136 million tonnes in 2013/14 from a peak of 218 million tonnes in 2009/10, according to industry lobby group ASSOCHAM. Production this year is expected to fall below last year's levels due to the Odisha shutdowns.
JSW Steel, India's No 3 maker of the alloy, expects to increase imports of iron ore by up to 80 per cent to 900,000 tonnes a month due to domestic shortages and a slump in international prices.