The Indian Supreme Court has suspended iron ore transport in Goa and asked for a report into illegal mining in the state within four weeks, a move that could further delay a resumption of mining and exports.

Goa is India's second-biggest iron ore producing state. It produces more than 50Mt a year and exports almost all of it, making it also the top exporter.

Basant Poddar, vice-president of the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries said it will now take at least 18 another months for mines to re-open.

In early September, the Goa government suspended mining. The central government had also revoked its environmental approvals to Goa mines temporarily.

In the neighbouring state of Karnataka, which was the second biggest producer of ore in southern India, the Supreme Court in September announced another 18 mines could restart operations which was expected to add 5Mt/y in addition to Federal State owned National Minerals Development Corporation's 12Mt/y.

The Supreme Court had banned mining in Karnataka last year. India’s iron ore exports, which mainly head to China, have already halved because of government taxes aimed at keeping output for the domestic steel industry and efforts to stop illegal mining.