India Scraps Tax on Lower-Grade Iron Ore Exports as Sales Slump

  • Tariff removal may boost shipments and add to global glut
  • Low prices mean Indian shippers may not benefit: Emkay Global

India will scrap an export duty on lower-grade iron ore shipments in a move that may add to a global glut that’s pummeled prices. Shares of Vedanta Ltd. and NMDC Ltd. surged.

The government will drop the 10 percent tax on fines of grades with 58 percent content or less and abolish the 30 percent levy on lower-grade lumps, according to the federal budget document for fiscal year starting April 1 released on Monday.

The global seaborne market faces a persistent surplus after the biggest producers in Brazil and Australia including Rio Tinto Group, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Vale SA boosted low-cost supply just as steel demand waned in China. Benchmark prices sank to lowest level in over six years in December.

“The scrapping of the export tax will not be materially significant as already the global prices are low,” Goutam Chakraborty, an analyst at Emkay Global Financial Services, said by phone from Mumbai. “China is slowing down and you are adding to supplies even if it is a small quantity.”

Goa Miners

Shipments from India slumped to 3.1 million metric tons in the year ended March 31, 2015 after topping 100 million tons six years ago, according to data from the Trade Ministry. Exports have dropped after the rout in global prices, and as local supplies fell following a cap imposed by the Supreme Court, the nation’s top court, on the amount of ore states could mine.

Miners in Goa, which had exported most of India’s lower-grade ore, suspended shipments after a 2012 Supreme Court order to ban mining for environmental violations. The ban was lifted in 2014, while the cap on production of 20 million tons a year remains in place.

Vedanta restarted exports from Goa in October and expects to ship out 3.5 million tons by end of the fiscal year on March 31. The company also produces ore from the state of Karnataka, where the company’s output is capped at 2.3 million tons a year.

Shares of Vedanta, a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, climbed as much as 6.9 percent to 76.75 rupees in Mumbai, the biggest intraday jump since Feb. 15, while NMDC rallied as much as 3.6 percent to 82.80 rupees, the most since Feb. 19.

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