Iron ore exports were at 4.38 million tonnes (MT) in April-October period of 2014-15 while there are 596 non-working mines in the country, Parliament was informed, reported PTI.
In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha Minister of State for Steel and Mines Vishnu Deo Sai said that as per provisional data, the country exported 4.38 MT of iron ore April-October period of the last fiscal.
He said the country has "197 working and 597 non-working iron ore mines" while the estimated reserves of iron ore in the country stand at 31.32 billion tonnes.
The country exported 16.30 MT of iron ore in 2013-14, and 18.11 MT in 2012-13. In 2011-12, the outbound shipments stood at 47.14 MT, the minister said.
Sai said the key steel-making raw material was exported mainly to countries like China, Japan and Korea.
"To conserve natural resources and to meet the domestic requirement, duty on export of iron ore has been increased from 20 per cent to 30 per cent ad valorem basis on all grades of iron ore (except pellets) with effect from December 30, 2011," the minister said.
Export duty of 5 per cent has been imposed on iron ore pellets with effect from January 27, 2014.
Once the world's third-largest suppliers of iron ore, India has become a net importer over the last few years after a series of mining bans in mineral-rich states like Odisha, Goa and Karnataka.
According to a Steel Ministry report earlier, Softening global metal prices and continuing mining ban in the country had pulled down India's iron ore exports by a whopping 61 per cent to USD 63.84 million in March.
The country earned USD 165 million by exporting iron ore in the same month of last year.