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A total of 16.35 million tonnes of iron ore was shipped overseas from April 2012 until the end of January this year, down from 51.5 million tonnes seen in the corresponding period a year before.

India had already seen iron ore exports fall by 36% for the 11 months ended February 29, 2012.

The decline in exports was mainly due to the bans on mining in the southern states of Karnataka and Goa, and restrictions on mining in other states such as Orissa in eastern India.

The mining ban in Karnataka was imposed in August 2011, while Goa has suspended all mining operations since September last year because of government investigations into irregularities and alleged illegal activities in the sector.