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Indian NMDC's Apr 2018-Feb 2019 iron ore output falls 9% on year to 28 mil mt

Singapore β€” India's NMDC produced 28.43 million mt of iron ore over April 2018-February 2019, down 9.2% year on year due to the suspension of production at one of its three mines, the state-run company said Wednesday.

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Sales for the 11-month period totaled 28.8 million mt, down 9.8% year on year, the company said. India's financial year runs April-March.

Production in February totaled 3.34 million mt, down 3.2% year on year, and sales 3.55 million mt, up 17.2% over the same period, the company said.

NMDC suspended production at its Donimalai mine in Karnataka last November due to a lease dispute with the Karnataka state government, which was seeking to impose an 80% royalty on iron ore sales as a pre-condition for its renewal.

The mine can produce 5.5 million-6 million mt/year of iron ore. The Karnataka High Court completed a hearing on the Donimalai mine dispute on February 26 but reserved judgment, which was expected to be announced by end March, several analysts said.

NMDC is major producer of iron ore in India at about 30 million mt/year from three highly-mechanized mine complexes; two in Chhattisgarh and the one in Karnataka.

"NMDC's monthly sales volume topped 3.5 million mt in February for the first time in FY19, buoyed by both the Chhattisgarh and Karnataka segments," said Amit Dixit, assistant vice president at Edelweiss Financial Services. "The production uptick at Chhattisgarh will partially make up for the volumes lost at Donimalai," he added.

NMDC raised prices by Rupees 400/mt ($5.75/mt) for both lumps and fines effective February 23 to Rupees 2,760/mt for fines and Rupees 3,000/mt for lumps.

-- Clement Choo, clement.choo@spglobal.com

-- Ashima Tyagi, ashima.tyagi@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Wendy Wells, newsdesk@spglobal.com