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Sesa Sterlite May Resume Iron Ore Exports From Goa as Ban Eased

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Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Sesa Sterlite Ltd. may resume overseas sales of iron ore from India’s Goa state, 17 months after losing its standing as the nation’s biggest exporter of the steelmaking raw material following a court ban on shipments.

A portion of the 90,000 metric tons bought in an auction in the western state on Feb. 17 will probably be exported, Executive Director Prasun Kumar Mukherjee said today in a phone interview. The quantity is part of the 233,983 tons the company also sold in the auction.

India’s top court, which banned mining and movement of iron ore in Goa in October 2012 to probe environmental breaches, allowed sales of about 15 million tons that were already excavated and lying at the mineheads. While the mining ban remains in force, a court-appointed panel auctioned more than 535,000 tons as the first lot.

Sesa, owned by billionaire Anil Agarwal, has an inventory of as much as 6.5 million tons of iron ore in Goa, Mukherjee said. Poor quality and logistical difficulties make ore from Goa unsuitable for local steelmakers, he said.

“Most of the auctioned ore will be exported to China,” Swaminathan Sridhar, executive director at trade body Goa Mineral Ore Exporters’ Association, said yesterday in a phone interview. “Shipments can start any time.”

The resumption of exports from Goa would help revive India’s iron ore shipments that are poised to tumble for the fourth financial year. Overseas sales will be less than 10 million tons in the year ending March 31, compared with 18 million tons a year earlier, according to the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries.

To contact the reporter on this story: Abhishek Shanker in Mumbai at ashanker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net