Expected Indian iron ore exports just not happening

The India iron ore trade with China in many ways laid the foundation for the today's spot market in the steelmaking ingredient.

A decade ago, With steel output growing by a staggering 23% per year, Chinese buyers desperate for ore were forced to chase tonnage on the sidelines of the global trade.

India's swing suppliers from Goa and Karnataka quickly step into the breach.

From 42mt in 2003 India's exports peaked at 120mt in 2009.

Then the Indian industry collapsed amid a government corruption crackdown and miners from the subcontinent abandoned the export market now dominated by seaborne ore from Australia, South Africa and Brazil.

India briefly became a net importer of ore as a result, but with some restriction lifted last year and the state of Orissa taking the gap left by traditional producers exports starting picking up again.

Indian exports were forecast to rise to 22mt this year.

Now WSJ reports India's iron ore production could fall by nearly a third this year due to a new court decision that ordered an additional 26 mines in Orissa with output of 40 million tonnes to be shut down.

A top government mining official said India's exports this financial year probably now won't rise and could end up near last year's level of 15mt.

The benchmark import price of iron ore in northern China fell through the $100 a tonne level for the first time since September 2010 on Monday.

Image by Abhisek Sarda