Karwar Port triumphs over legal challenges and paves way for export of 1.15 million tons of iron ore

In a major breakthrough, the port of Karwar has successfully emerged from a 13-year stalemate and allowed 1.15 million tons of confiscated iron ore to be exported to China. This iron ore, along with other minerals destined for export to China, was seized over a decade ago by the Ministry of Mines and Geology for alleged legal violations.

After a lengthy legal battle, ore was banned from exporting from Karnataka, leaving the iron ore and other minerals stranded in the port of Karwar, unable to reach their intended destination in China. However, after obtaining the necessary permits from the local court and going through a rigorous auction process, these valuable resources are now en route from Karwar Port to China, marking the long-awaited resumption of iron ore exports after a long wait of 13 years.

Of the total of 1.15 million tons originally confiscated by the Forest Service, court approval was granted for the export of about 37,320 tons of iron ore to China. It is important to note that only iron ore is part of this current export process, while the rest of the minerals will remain in port until the case is fully resolved.

The iron ore was confiscated in 2010 and has been stored in Karwar port ever since. Unfortunately, the following year around 50,000 tonnes were reported stolen, leading to a lawsuit and subsequent judicial intervention sought by the mining companies to dispose of the remaining ore.

Recently the court approved the auction of 32,000 tons of ore; However, despite the court order, the material attracted limited interest from potential buyers. Eventually, a Maharashtra-based company expressed interest and successfully won the tender to collect and export the iron ore to China, using its existing export license.

It is important to emphasize that not all minerals have been auctioned yet. Currently, only the Raj Mahal Mining Company ore has been exported while the Vedanta Group ore is still awaiting shipment.

As a result, on May 22, 2023, the iron ore was loaded onto the ship “MV Notos Ventura” for its voyage to China. Vedanta Group’s remaining two iron ore deposits will be divested once the Company meets the required fee requirements.

The port of Karwar was once a major hub for iron ore exports from 2003 to 2010, when operations were abruptly suspended amid allegations of illegal mining and exporting activities. This matter eventually reached the Supreme Court, which imposed a complete ban on iron ore exports until October 2020, leading to a protracted legal battle. The successful resolution of the current standoff marks a turning point for the port of Karwar as it regains its position as a major player in the iron ore export industry.

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