EghtesadOnline: A total of 2.46 million tons of stones, gypsum, sand and gravel worth $1.3 billion were exported from Iran in the first five months of the current Iranian year (March 20-Aug. 21).
According to Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, the exports included different types of lime, gypsum, magnesium oxide, silicon dioxide soil, marble chips, sandstone, pebble, flint, china stone, travertine, pumice and clay.
“China, Iraq, India, Armenia, Oman, Qatar, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Kuwait and Indonesia were among the main customers of Iran’s stone, gypsum, sand and gravel,” he was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
10m Tons of Gypsum Extracted From Semnan p.a.
Around 10 million tons of gypsum are extracted from Semnan’s mines annually, says the head of Industries, Mining and Trade Organization of the province.
Behrouz Asvadi added that a total of 84 gypsum mines are operating in Semnan, ISNA reported.
The Iranian province is the biggest producer of gypsum, salt, Celestine, and zeolite in the country, the second biggest producer of sodium sulfate and the third biggest producer of coal and chromite.
Mahallat: The Hub of Decorative Stone Production
Over 6,000 factories and 1,200 mines are engaged in stone business in Iran.
Mahallat County in Markazi Province is the hub of decorative stone production in Iran. There are 70 active stone mines in Mahallat that possesses 30 million tons of mineral reserves, 2 million tons of which 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 variety and production 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 Iran Stone Association Ahmad Sharifi, however, says these units are operating at around one-third of their nominal capacity.
The official said the 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 caused the end price of processing to go up, as a result of which our power to compete in global markets has diminished,” Mohammad Reza Hajipour, the chairman of Industries, Mining and Trade Organization of Markazi Province, has been quoted as saying.
Sharifi added that 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.
"The construction sector has been facing recession in recent months, which is expected to continue in the next Iranian year [starting March 21, 2021]," he said.
According to Sharifi, finding new export markets is necessary for this industry to survive.
World's 4th Largest Stone Reserves
With more than 4 billion tons, Iran has the fourth largest stone reserve in the world.
“Iran’s processed stone production capacity stands at 180 million square meters per year, while actual production is around 80-85 million square meters,” Rahmati said.
“Construction stone production capacity amounts to 30 million tons per year but only 13.5 million tons are produced annually, meaning the mines are operating at one-third of their nominal production capacity.”
The official announced that Iran is among the top five producers of construction stones in the world.
Rubble Stone Accounts for 25% of Iranian Mines
A total of 2,587 rubble stone mines have been registered in Iran to date, constituting around 25% of the country’s total mines, data provided by the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade show.
The data also show that there are currently 1,881 active, 580 idle and 126 under-construction rubble mines across Iran, IRNA reported.
The active rubble stone mines have a 30% share of the country’s total operating mines (6,100).
The private sector owns 2,587 of the rubble mines, while the remaining 162 are managed by state-affiliated bodies.
In the construction sector, any stone that cannot be used for decoration is called rubble. Rubble is a broken stone, of irregular size, shape and texture.
As an effective material for boosting strength and durability, rubble is especially used for filling-in walls and concrete production. It is also used in the chemicals, cosmetics and paper production sectors.
Based on available data, Iran extracted over 98.67 million tons of rubble during the last fiscal year (ended March 19, 2020).
The country’s potential rubble reserves are estimated to stand at 12.5 billion tons.
About 21,000 people are directly involved in the rubble stone sector.
Estimations show 59 industrial subsectors can use rubble as their raw material.