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Indian customs clear remaining gold at Mumbai airport: officials

By Siddesh Mayenkar

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's customs department has cleared more than a ton of gold, part of which was owned by Bank of Nova Scotia , the biggest gold importing bank, at Mumbai airport after rule clarifications at a high-level meeting held last month, industry and bank officials said on Saturday.

Gold imports into India, the world's biggest buyer of the metal, had virtually stopped after a July 22 circular which tied domestic consumption to exports.

"More than one tonne of gold was stuck at Mumbai airport and everything has been released. People have taken delivery of gold and the festival season has started with a good news for exporters," Pankaj Kumar Parekh, vice chairman of the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council told Reuters.

The resumption of imports after a two month gap is positive for exporters like Rajesh Exports and Shree Ganesh Jewellery ahead of the peak Christmas season.

It is also positive for domestic jewellers in the run up to the festival season, which peaks with Dhanteras in November, the biggest gold buying festival.

"We were after the customs since two months and finally our consignment has been cleared. We will start processing our orders from Monday," said an official with a private bullion importing bank in Mumbai, who wished not to be named due to company policy.

India, battling with a record high trade deficit and a weak currency, is trying to curb imports of dollar-denominated gold, the most expensive non-essential item in its import bill.

India may import a total of 30 metric tons in October, half of the normal average, out of which 6 metric tons might go for exporters and 24 metric tons for the domestic market, Parekh said on October 1.

India imported 393.68 metric tons of the yellow metal from April to September 25, slightly higher than the normal average of 60 metric tons per month.

A finance ministry official estimated gold imports at between 750 and 800 metric tons in the fiscal year through March 2014.

(Editing by David Holmes)

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