EghtesadOnline: Iran's trade of mineral products recorded $323.33 million in surplus during the first month of the current fiscal year (March 21-April 20).
The country exported 4.34 million tons of mineral products worth over $503.2 million during the month, up 16% in tonnage and down 17% in value compared with last year’s corresponding month.
Imports stood at 222,000 tons worth $179.87 million, down 5% and 9% in tonnage and value respectively year-on-year, latest report released by the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization shows.
IMIDRO's previous report showed Iran registered a mineral trade surplus worth $5.65 billion in the last fiscal year (ended March 20, 2019), according to Financial Tribune.
Mineral exports had a 51% share in tonnage and 20% in value of Iran’s total exports, while mineral imports had a 10% and 9% share in tonnage and value of Iran’s total imports respectively during the month under review.
Steel Tops List of Traded Commodities
Semi-finished and finished steel products took the lion’s share of exports in terms of value as about 589,980 tons worth about $223.95 million were shipped overseas, down 13% and 25% YOY in volume and value respectively.
The category of iron ore (concentrate and pellet) came second with about 1.29 million tons worth about $81.39 million. The volume and value of shipments grew 56% and 128% respectively YOY.
The category of “other mineral products” came third with 494,240 tons worth about $45.5 million, up by 17% in tonnage and down by 31% in value YOY.
It was followed by copper and downstream products with about 26,820 tons valued at $43.05 million, down 40% and 36% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Minerals exported from Iran during the period under review were zinc with 12,930 tons worth $32.81 million, cement with 1.5 million tons worth $28.58 million, metals with 9,210 tons worth $12.83 million, stones with 358,180 tons worth $10.76 million, aluminum and downstream products with 3,410 tons worth $6.75 million, chrome with 22,070 tons worth $4.96 million, ferroalloy with 3,790 tons worth $4.11 million and lead with 1,770 tons worth $3.59 million.
Other exported mineral commodities included coal and coke with 29,400 tons worth $2.77 million, antimony with 590 tons worth $1.13 million, pottery and bricks with 3,500 tons worth $0.51 million, molybdenum with 40 tons worth $0.39 million, alumina power with 40 tons worth $0.08 million and mining equipment with 10 tons worth $0.02 million.
As for imports, steel also had the largest share among Iran's imports of mineral products during the month in terms of value, as 49,160 tons worth $55.06 million were imported, down 40% and 19% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Coal and coke came second with 84,700 tons worth $27.53 million, up 25% in volume and 25% in value YOY.
The category of “other mineral products” was next with 23,150 tons worth $24.82 million, down 31% and 21% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Iranian imports were alumina powder with 31,020 tons worth $14.04 million, ferroalloy with 10,400 tons worth $12.46 million, aluminum and downstream products with 3,710 tons worth $8.8 million, mining equipment with 890 tons worth $7.61 million, metals with 2,510 tons worth $7.03 million, pottery and bricks with 1,340 tons worth $5.55 million, titanium with 2,120 tons worth $5.24 million, zinc with 7,980 tons worth $3.46 million and lead with 940 tons worth $2.33 million.
Other imported commodities included cement with 3,440 tons worth $2.21 million, nickel with 110 tons worth $1.94 million, stones with 520 tons worth $0.92 million, copper and downstream products with 50 tons worth $0.47 million, chrome with 180 tons worth $0.33 million and antimony with 20 tons worth $0.08 million.
Iran is home to 68 types of minerals with more than 37 billion tons of proven reserves and 57 billion tons of potential reserves.
According to the United States Geological Survey, Iran holds the world's largest zinc, ninth largest copper, 10th largest iron ore, fifth largest gypsum and barite, and 10th largest uranium reserves. Overall, Iran is home to more than 7% of global mineral reserves.
US Sanctions on Iran's Industrial Metals
The administration of US President Donald Trump ordered new sanctions on Iran last week, this time targeting the Islamic Republic’s export revenues from its industrial metals sector.
An executive order issued by Trump covers Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum and copper sectors, the Islamic Republic’s largest non-petroleum-related sources of export revenue and 10% of its export economy, a statement from the White House said.
“US sanctions on Iranian metals are against international norms,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said in reaction, warning that Washington would be responsible for Iran’s losses.
“This US measure is against the international commitments of this regime ... It is against international norms ... The United States will be responsible for the losses caused,” Abbas Mousavi was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Economic operators from Iran’s metals sector say the new round of US sanctions will fail to stop Iran’s exports of industrial metals.
Deputy Industries Minister Jafar Sarqeini has dismissed concerns about the sanctions, saying high-quality Iranian products have their own international customers.
"It is unlikely that the sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump could significantly affect Iran’s metals industry," he was quoted as saying by Tasnim News Agency, adding that he saw no reason for concerns due to the excellent quality of Iranian metals that meet international standards.
Sanctions against Iran’s economy are actually not new, they just get tougher by the round, said a senior member of Iranian Iron Ore Producers and Exporters Association, Qadir Qiafeh.
“Business persons have learned to create workaround to US trade sanctions. Although some of these methods have been identified and can’t be used again, Iran’s mineral products will remain available on global markets,” he added.
Qiafeh believes the executive order issued by Trump on May 8 to impose new sanctions on Iran’s industrial metals is more of a symbolic nature than anything else since the US had already announced on the same date a year ago that Iran’s steel, copper and aluminum industries were included in the first wave of sanctions.
“A large part of mineral and steel exports is sold to neighboring countries by small- and medium-sized enterprises to their counterparts in export destinations. These SMEs usually slip under the US radar,” he noted.
Nonetheless, Iran's Syndicate of Steel Pipe and Profile Manufacturers said Iranian manufacturers and consumers are likely to be impacted by the decline in steel imports that may come with the new sanctions, and this has already occurred as a result of the secondary sanctions.