The demand of the Chief Ministers of the mineral-rich States to ban the exports of iron ore has raised a critical issue. The five States (Orissa, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh) have pleaded with the Centre that the Anwarul Hoda Committee recommendations regarding the value addition of mineral resources within the State should be respected. The States have reasoned that these value addition incentives would not only increase the employment scenario in their States but would also act as a great incentive for the development of the industrial base in their States.
Experts have reasoned that these arguments, which categorise mineral resources as the ‘wealth’ of the country, can be rendered as valid only to an extent. It is contended that India’s 24 billion tonnes of proven reserves wouldn’t last long and as such should be preserved. But similarly forceful counterarguments are given which argue that with proper incentives for exploration and exploitation, Indian reserves can rise to more than a hundred times the present.
Australia and Brazil have not only developed their iron and steel industry but are also among the largest exporters of iron ore. It would then be ridiculous to stop the export of iron ore from India. What is needed is a careful balancing of the domestic needs for steel, exploration and exports.