EghtesadOnline: More than 580,000 tons of processed stones worth $144 million were exported from Iran during the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2019) to register an increase of 14% compared with the year before.
According to Vice Chairman of Iran Stone Association Malek Rahmati, an additional 1 million tons of semi-processed stones worth $161 million were also exported during the same period, IRNA reported.
With more than 4 billion tons, Iran has the fourth largest stone reserves in the world.
“Iran’s processed stone production capacity stands at 180 million square meters per year, while actual production is about 80-85 million square meters,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
Rahmati noted that construction stone production capacity amounts to 30 million tons per year, but only 13.5 million tons are produced annually, which shows that the mines are operating at one-third of their nominal production capacity.
Nonetheless, Iran is among the top five producers of construction stones in the world.
Last year (March 2018-19), 69 countries imported Iranian processed stones. Iraq was the top importer with 269,000 tons, followed by the UAE with 101,000 tons, ILNA reported.
As for semi-processed stones, China topped the list of Iran's export destinations with 812,000 tons worth $140 million. India, the UAE, Italy, Turkey, Iraq, Spain, Taiwan, Oman and Malaysia were other customers of Iranian semi-finished stone.
According to the vice chairman of Iran Stone Association, Iran has 2,089 licensed stone mines, 1,200 of which are presently active.
“Plans are underway to revive 50 small stone mines in the current [fiscal] year [started March 21],” he said.
Rahmati referred to the 11th Iran Stone Exhibition scheduled for July 9-12 at Tehran’s International Fairground and said 120 domestic and foreign firms, including those of Italy, China and Turkey, are scheduled to participate in this year's event.
According to the website of the event at Irsestonefair.com, the expo is organized by Iran Stone Association with the aim of introducing the domestic stone industry’s capacities, boosting trade and facilitating technology transfer.
The International Iran Stone Exhibition is considered one of the most important events in the Iranian stone industry.
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 for showcasing Iranian stone products and expanding export markets.
Iran’s unprocessed construction stones are exported to 42 countries, Fars News Agency reported.
Mahallat County in Markazi Province is the hub of decorative stone production in Iran. It has 70 active stone mines and possesses 30 million tons of mineral reserves.
About 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 also active there.
According to Rahmati, Iran ranks third in terms of variety and production volume of ornamental stones 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 told ISNA that Iranian stone industry’s top priority is to activate the idle capacities.
“In many decorative stone processing units in the country, we witness a huge amount of waste that has increased the end price of processing and reduced our capacity to compete in global markets,” Mohammad Reza Hajipour, the chairman of Industries, Mining and Trade Organization of Markazi Province, said.
Sharifi noted that 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.
"The construction sector has been facing recession in recent months, which is expected to continue in the next Iranian year [stating March 20, 2019]," he said.
According to Sharifi, finding new export markets is necessary for this industry to survive.