EghtesadOnline: Iran’s export of mineral products in the first three quarters of the current fiscal year (March 20-Dec. 20) stood at 29.5 million tons worth $4.11 billion, latest data released by the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization show.
This registered a 44% and 39% decline in volume and value year-on-year, respectively.
According to IMIDRO, steel topped the list of exports in terms of value with $2.17 billion and was followed by copper with $665.8 million and cement with $268.8 million.
In terms of tonnage, cement had the largest share with 13.22 million tons, followed by steel with 5.65 million tons.
According to the IMIDRO data, alumina powder exports saw the biggest jump in terms of value (234% YOY) to reach $1.3 million, followed by aluminum products with $155.8 million (up 82% YOY), ferromolybdenum with $9.6 million (up 189% YOY) and molybdenum with $22.9 million (up 4% YOY).
The sharpest fall in export value was recorded for iron ore concentrate (down 90% YOY to reach $28.3 million), iron ore in the form of fines/lumps (down 82% YOY to reach $43.3 million) and antimony (down 71% YOY to reach $3.6 million).
In terms of tonnage, aluminum products posted the biggest growth (108% YOY) to reach 92,050 tons, followed by alumina powder (up 93% YOY to reach 650 tons), rare-earth minerals (up 88% YOY to reach 60 tons) and zinc products (up 49% YOY to reach 155,170 tons).
Iron ore concentrate had the sharpest decline in tonnage with 366,750 tons (down 90% YOY).
Mineral Imports Up 18%
The IMIDRO report shows imports of mineral products stood at 3.02 million tons worth $2.37 billion during the same period, which mark an 18% increase in total volume and a 3% decrease compared with the same period of last year.
Steel also topped the list of mineral imports in terms of value with $991.78 million. It was followed by coal and coke with $208.12 million worth of imports. Aluminum products with $182.6 million came next, followed by titanium products with $110.95 million.
In terms of tonnage, coal and coke topped the list with 895,430 tons, followed by steel with 874,980 tons, alumina powder with 230,150 tons and aluminum products with 118,430 tons.
The value of precious metals imports saw the biggest jump (69% YOY) to reach $870,000. It was followed by ferromolybdenum with $0.02 million (up 50% YOY) and steel products, up 41% to $991.78 million.
The sharpest fall in import value was recorded for lead, which dipped 96% YOY to reach $560,000.
55 Billion Tons of Reserves
Iran’s mineral reserves currently stand at 55 billion tons, about 37 billion tons of which are proven. New explorations are expected to increase the figure by 30% to 60 billion tons by the end of the current fiscal year (March 2021).
Some 410 million tons of minerals were extracted from Iranian mines in the last Iranian year (ended March 19, 2020).
Iran is home to 68 types of minerals with 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.
Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, the country’s largest state-owned mining holding company, has invested 6 trillion rials ($26 million) in mining exploration across the country during President Hassan Rouhani's first term in office (August 2013-17).
"More than 900 high-potential mining zones have been identified so far … IMIDRO and its subsidiaries have carried out exploration operations over 700,000 square kilometers of the country’s area since 2012, 400,000 of which have been conducted over the past two years," Khodadad Gharibpour, the former head of IMIDRO, was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
“A consortium of private companies accounted for 50,000 square meters of explorations,” he said.
“IMIDRO is set to carry out operations on 280 of the new mining zones and the remaining zones will be outsourced to the private sector.”
Gharibpour noted that exploration and mining in general cannot begin until mining firms are certified by the Industries Ministry.
“The permits issued so far cover the excavation of lead, zinc, gold, copper, iron ore, coal and salt, on which work has begun gradually,” he added.
Iran is said to have the largest area under mineral exploration in the Middle East.