New Delhi : The government is keen on starting iron ore mining and exports, which face a Supreme Court ban, and will soon take up the matter, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said.

His remarks follow Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s comment last week that the Mines Ministry had or would move the apex court seeking relaxation in some of the orders passed on iron ore mining in Goa and Karnataka.

 Before the ban, India was exporting iron ore worth over USD 7 billion, making it the third-largest exporter in the world. But after the 2011 Supreme Court ban on exports of most categories, shipments plunged to 18.37 million tonnes in 2012-13 from 117.4 million tonnes in 2009-2010.

 “Yes, we will take it up because we do not want this ban to continue because all the mining activity as such is not illegal…we want to start it. The fact of the matter is we have huge exportable surplus,” Sharma said after the meeting of Board of Trade.

He also said that exports will help in fetching substantial foreign exchange “which this country does need and therefore we will be moving in that direction”. Sharma said that India’s iron ore mining is about 200-225 million tonnes and consumption is only 95 million tonnes.

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