EghtesadOnline: Iran’s total exports of iron ore witnessed a noticeable downturn since the seventh Iranian month (Sept. 23-Oct. 22), at the beginning of which the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade started to impose tariffs on the export of unprocessed minerals, including iron ore.
The data were released by the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization.
DRI exports also registered a noticeable decline, similar to iron ore exports, during the eighth Iranian month, as the country’s DRI exports during the month totaled 15,400 tons to register an 82.11% and 40.77% decline MOM and YOY respectively.
Iron ore exports during the eighth Iranian month (Oct. 23- Nov. 21) saw a staggering decline of 75.43% month-on-month and 80.32% year-on-year to reach 311,000 tons, Financial Tribune reported.
In fact, iron ore exports during this month hit the lowest point since the beginning of the last Iranian year (March 21, 2018).
A total of 10.6 million tons of iron ore worth $698.18 million were exported from Iran during the first eight months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Nov. 21, 2019) to register a 4% and 46% rise in tonnage and value respectively compared with last year’s corresponding period.
Iron ore concentrates had the lion’s share of the exports with 3.43 million tons worth $268.9 million, indicating a 29% and 39% year-on-year growth in tonnage and value respectively.
Iron ore in the form of fines/lumps accounted for 4.79 million tons worth $222.11 million of the total iron ore exports, down by 21% in tonnage and up by 27% in value YOY.
Iron ore pellets amounted to 2.38 million tons worth $207.17 million, up by 63% and 89% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
The country exported 1.26 million tons of iron ore during the seventh Iranian month to register an increase of 8.48% compared to the month before and a 32.44% decline compared to last year’s similar month.
From March 2018 until the end of eighth month of the current Iranian year, the country’s iron ore export reached its highest level in last year’s 11th month (Jan. 21-Feb. 19, 2019), as the country exported 2.24 million tons of iron ore.
An aggregate of 17 million tons of iron ore worth $840 million were exported from Iran in the last fiscal year (March 2018-19). Iron ore concentrate had the lion’s share from exports with 5.52 million tons worth $380.95 million, iron ore fines/lumps with 8.84 million tons worth $258.75 million and iron ore pellet with 2.78 million tons worth $201.92 million.
Iran accounts for about 3% of global iron ore reserves estimated at 4.5 billion tons with over 200 ore deposits.
According to the United States Geological Survey, Iran holds the world's 10th largest iron ore reserves.
As the world’s second biggest DRI producer after India, Iran exported 702,000 tons of DRI during the eight-month period under review, registering a 75% growth YOY.
Figures from last year’s beginning until the end of eighth Iranian month this year—a 20-month period (March 21, 2018-Nov. 21, 2019)—show the country’s DRI exports hit the lowest level in last year’s seventh Iranian month (Sept. 23-Oct. 22, 2018) with 500 tons, while it hit the highest level in the current year’s fourth Iranian month (June 22-July 22) with 176,700 tons.
Tariffs to Continue at Least Till March 2020
The Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade will retain tariffs on unprocessed metal exports in line with its policy to increase exports of finished products with high value added.
Industries Minister Reza Rahmani noted that tariffs of up to 25% imposed on exports of raw iron and other metals will remain in place at least until March 21 when the current Iranian year ends, Fars News agency reported.
The ministry began imposing 20-25% duties on the export of unprocessed minerals as of Sept. 23.
According to Deputy Industries Minister Jafar Sarqeini, the decision is aimed at supporting domestic production, preventing export of unprocessed minerals and generating more value-added.
Iron ore seems to be at the forefront of the new restrictive measure, as experts warn Iran will face a shortage of iron ore to feed its steel industries in the near future.
Duty on exports of iron ore concentrates and pellets stands at 25%.
Rahmani rejected criticism targeted at the government that the tariffs inflicted losses on the country and hampered efforts to offset the impacts of US sanctions by increasing the exports.
“Imposing tariffs on exports are meant to support [domestic] production and attain the highest possible value added,” he said, stressing that this policy was implemented regarding raw materials and semi-finished products.
Iran, a leading producer of steel and other precious metals like copper, levied the duties in view of major smelters and mills across the country facing inventory shortages due to the rise in exports of metal ores to countries like China.
A harsh tariff of 25% has been imposed on iron and manganese, including the export of concentrates, while copper ore exports face a 10% tariff rate.
The Industries Ministry revised down some of the tariffs earlier this month, including for copper concentrate, chromite and lead concentrate.
Bahram Soltani, the head of Iranian Steel Producers Association, said the domestic market should be given priority when it comes to supplying iron ore and that only the surplus should be kept aside for exports.
Due to the ease of trading and high demand in global markets, iron ore is sold without being processed in Iran. Exports also become more lucrative when the value of national currency declines.
The rial lost nearly two-thirds of its value over the last Iranian year that ended on March 20.
According to Rahmani, 10% of Iran's iron ore output are currently exported.
According to an official with Esfahan Steel Company, Nematollah Mohseni, excessive exports of iron ores have caused many steelmakers, including ESCO, to operate below capacity.