CHENNAI: Increased iron ore handling by Major Ports during the third quarter led to a 7.55 per cent increase in cargo traffic for the nine months ended December 31 as against the same period last year.
Major Ports handled 481 million tonnes of cargo during the nine months as against 447 mt in the same period last year, according to data from the Indian Ports Association.
Mormugao Port led with 62 per cent increase in cargo handling due to iron ore traffic, which increased to 93.48 lakh tonnes from 15 lakh tonnes last year. Similarly, at New Mangalore, iron ore traffic nearly tripled to 15.59 lakh tonnes.
Out of the 12 Major Ports, Kamarajar Port at Ennore and Kolkata reported a decline in cargo handling during the nine months.
At Kamarajar Port, the decline was mainly due to lower handling of thermal coal, according to available data. K Ravichandran, Senior Vice-President and Group Head, Corporate Ratings, ICRA, who tracks the port sector, said iron ore volumes had been declining up to the first half of 2016-17 as mining restrictions prevailed during a large part of the year in major States such as Karnataka, Goa and Odisha, and other policy measures such as high export duty.
However, with the lifting of bans and further relaxation of export duty on low-grade iron ore in 2016 Budget, mining activities commenced gradually; and further supported by a rise in prices, iron ore exports have picked up in the recent months.
Commencement of exports by State-run mineral producer NMDC to Korea and Japan, based on a long-term agreement signed during the year (16.5 million tonnes over three years) is also likely to have supported volumes.
Moreover, various initiatives under the Sagar Mala port modernisation programme will aid the long-term growth trajectory of the industry, Ravichandran said.