Iran iron ore exports to rise by 10 per cent

Iran iron ore exports to rise by 10 per cent

Azerbaijan, Baku, May.12/ Trend R.Zamanov

Iran exported 20 million tons of iron ore in the previous calendar year, which ended March 20.

Mohammad Habibi, an official with Iran's Iron Ore Producers and Exporters Union, predicted that the amount would be increased by 10 per cent in the current calendar year.

He expressed hope that the tax problems would be solved soon so that the Iron ore exports face a boost.

Iranian officials say the country's domestic need for steel production units caused a sharp decline in the country's iron ore exports previous year.

China, Russia and Kazakhstan are among the few trade allies still providing a lifeline to Iran's vital steel and iron ore sector after most Western suppliers and buyers have cut ties due to growing sanctions pressure, Reuters reported earlier this month.

While industry data shows steel imports have more than halved in the last year, Tehran has kept an inflow from some partners and slightly boosted domestic production of the material, used in construction and vehicle production but also potentially for nuclear use and munitions.

Iran has also doubled exports of the steelmaking raw ingredient iron ore, worth about $3 billion a year at current prices. The country does not have enough capacity to use much more of its ore to produce steel, but exporting it provides much-needed income now its oil revenues are down by about 50 percent due to sanctions over its disputed nuclear program.

While EU and U.S. bans on specific ferrous products have pushed most Western players away, fearing repercussions on their international trade, Chinese interest in Iranian iron ore has increased, and China has increased steel supplies to Iran.

Top steel producer China is now buying about 2 million tons of Iranian iron ore a month, double the amount it was buying in early 2012, data from consultancy the International Steel Statistics Bureau shows.

Tehran has ambitious plans to expand domestic steel output and hopes it can in the short term become self-sufficient.

Iranian Mines & Mining Industries Development & Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) announced earlier this year that four steel projects will come on stream in the first half of the current Iranian calendar year, which started March 21.

Once the projects come on stream some 4 million tons would be added to the country's sponge iron output capacity, the IRNA News Agency reported.

The projects will be completed at the cost of 458 million euros and 10.16 trillion rials (some $828.7 based on the official rate of dollar).

According to Deputy Industry Minister Reza Fatemi-Amin, some 7 million tons of crude steel is imported annually.

In September, 2012, Industry, Mine, and Trade Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari said that a number of steel projects, with the total output of 12 million tons are underway.

Iran will become one of the world's main steel exporters by March 2016, Ghazanfari said in May 2011.

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