CCI orders probe against IREL for alleged pricing abuse

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered a detailed probe against State-owned IREL for alleged abuse of its dominant position in supplying and pricing of beach sand ilmenite in the country. 

The order has been passed on a complaint filed by Tamil Nadu-based Beach Mineral Producers Association (informant), which had alleged that the company was indulging in unfair pricing of beach sand ilmenite, among other issues. 

To assess the matter, the CCI considered mining and supply of beach sand ilmenite in India as the relevant market. 

IREL is into mining and production of various minerals, rare earths and chemicals. 

“The conduct of OP (Opposite Party) seems to have resulted in unfair/ discriminatory conditions as well as pricing for domestic consumers and are prima facie in violation of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) and 4(2)(a)(ii) of the Act. 

“Further, the conduct also appears to be prima facie in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(c) of the Act due to denial of input to the informant’s members,” the CCI said in the order dated October 18. 

The OP is IREL (India) Ltd, and Section 4 of the Competition Act pertains to abuse of dominant position. 

On the basis of the material available on record, the regulator said that there appeared to be substance in the allegations levelled by the informant and those prima facie violate Section 4. 

As a result, the CCI has ordered a detailed investigation by the Director General (DG), its probe arm. 

Ilmenite is one of seven economically-important, strategic, rare-earth minerals mined and processed from beach sand. 

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