Friday, 22 Jul 2011 |By BS
BS reported that the steel industry in South India is in doldrums following a severe shortage of iron ore and a large number of sponge iron manufacturers and small steel mills are on the verge of closure while many have already shut shop.
As per report, some of the steel mills like Sathavahana Ispat, Kirloskar Ferrous, Kalyani Steels, Unimetal Ispat, Sandur Manganese and Iron Ore and Sandur Laminates have suspended their operations partially.
Karnataka contributes 30% of the national steel output, at 18.4 million tonnes annually. For 2011-12, steel, pig iron and sponge iron units collectively require 45 million tonnes of ore, while the present availability is limited to about 24 million tonnes which is 48% of the state’s total output.
According to Mr Vinod Nowal CEO and director of JSW Steel and president of the Karnataka Iron and Steel Manufacturers’ Association, 22 of 60 sponge iron plants in Karnataka are closed for want of raw material.
Mr Nowal said that “While we strongly condemn any illegal mining, the government needs to ensure supply of required iron ore to steel plants without disruption.”
He added that “All the industries manufacturing steel, pig iron and the sponge iron, among others, are process oriented units and stopping/ starting of the furnaces involve huge risk and losses. To ensure continuity in the operation of the industries, there is a need to ensure the availability of iron ore to meet the day-to-day demand of various industries.”
Mr Basant Poddar vice president of Federation of Indian Mineral Industries said that “The industry fears the Supreme Court may order closure of many more mines in the BHS region and, if that happens, the availability of iron ore could be reduced to as low as 7 million tonnes to 8 million tonnes, which will be a death blow to the steel industry in the state.”
The shortage of iron ore is in the wake of suspension of activities in almost 50 mines in this state following the direction of the Supreme Court, which is hearing a case on illegal mining. Based on the recommendation of the Central Empowered Committee out of 99 mining leases, the apex court has ordered the shutting of 40 mines in the Bellary, Hospet and Sandur region.