EghtesadOnline: With more than 4 billion tons, Iran has the fourth largest stone reserve in the world, according to the organizer of the 15th International Exhibition of Stones, Quarries and Related Industries.
“Today we have around 1,800 stone mines and some 6,000 stone cutting factories across the country. Iran’s raw stone and processed stone exports amount to $200 million per year. Yet, the latter’s share of this sum is meager,” Mahmoud Bandarchi was also quoted as saying by ILNA.
The official added that plans are underway to increase stone exports to $2 billion per annum within the next five years.
The expo is scheduled to be held in Isfahan Province from May 1 to 4, according to Financial Tribune.
“Participants from Iranian provinces as well as foreign countries, including China, Italy, Russia and Spain, will participate in the event. It focuses on the four main fields of exploration, extraction, processing and exports,” he said.
Bandarchi noted that companies, miners and business owners will showcase their latest products and services in the fields of decorative and construction stones, stone cutting and processing machinery and equipment, natural and synthetic stones, safety equipment and spare parts.
The exhibition is also aimed, he added, at introducing Iran’s stone industry capabilities and boost trade and technology transfer.
“In many decorative stone processing units in the country, we witness a huge amount of waste that has caused the cost of processing to go up and our power to compete in global markets diminish as a result,” Mohammad Reza Hajipour, the chairman of Industries, Mining and Trade Organization of Markazi Province, has been quoted as saying.
Tehran’s stone export consortiums have established permanent stone exhibitions in seven countries with the support of Tehran Industrial Parks Company.
The exhibitions have been set up in Oman, Iraq, Panama, China, India, Germany and Spain with the aim of showcasing Iranian stone products and expanding export markets.
Mahallat County in Markazi Province is the hub of decorative stone production in Iran. It has 70 active stone mines with 30 million tons of mineral reserves. Some 2 million tons are extracted annually.
Over 2% of the world’s construction and travertine stones are produced in Mahallat. Some 280 processing units, with a capacity of 18 million square meters of stone, are active there.
According to Malek Rahmati, vice chairman of Iran Stone Association, Iran ranks third in terms of ornamental stone variety and production volume after China and India.
Iranian stone processing units have a nominal production capacity of 180 million square meters per year.
Secretary-General of Stone Association of Iran Ahmad Sharifi, however, added that these units are currently operating at around one-third of their nominal capacity.
The official told ISNA that Iranian stone industry’s top priority is to activate the idle capacities.
Sharifi said about 60 million square meters of stones are produced in Iran annually, 10 million square meters of which are exported and the rest meets domestic demand.
"In the fiscal March 2012-13, about 140 million square meters of stones were produced in Iran," he said.
"The construction sector has been facing recession in recent months, which is expected to continue in the upcoming Iranian year [stating March 21, 2019]."
According to Sharifi, finding new export markets is necessary for the industry to survive.