Azerbaijan, Baku, Aug. 26 /Trend F.Karimov/
Iranian industry minister Mohammad-Reza Nematzadeh said that exporting iron ore is unjustified as the country is an importer of steel products, IRNA reported.
"We should not export unprocessed iron ore, as Iran imports six to seven million tons of steel products for domestic industries," he added.
Iran is raising its exports of iron ore and iron products to India and China in an attempt to replace at least a small part of the massive revenue that has been lost due to sanctions on its oil sales, Reuters reported.
While Iran's oil exports have halved in the last few years due to western sanctions over the country's disputed nuclear program, iron ore exports have grown by more than 60 percent over the same period to an annual rate of about 25 million tonnes, worth about $3 billion a year at current prices.
The extra billion dollars a year that Iran is gaining from the additional iron exports, however, is still very small when compared with the loss in oil revenue of roughly $35 billion a year.
"Sanctions have forced Iran to look at other ways of earning export revenues besides oil and gas, and the mineral sector has been doing pretty well. I know there has been quite a substantial increase in things like iron ore exports," said Mehdi Varzi, a former official at the state-run National Iranian Oil Co, who now runs an energy consultancy in the UK.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has exported over $12.5 billion of non-oil goods in the first four months of the current Iranian calendar year (started March 21) despite the U.S.-engineered sanctions imposed on the country.
Iran exported $12.536 billion of non-oil commodities during the four-month period, marking an 11.5-percent rise in weight and a five-percent decline in value compared to the corresponding period last year, IRNA reported.
The export of industrial, mining and agricultural products, rugs and handicrafts rose by 3.5 percent in comparison with the same period a year earlier.