EghtesadOnline: Iran was ranked the world’s seventh biggest producer of cement in 2020 by the United States Geological Survey, with an output of 60 million tons.
The ranking is unchanged compared with 2019.
According to the report, global cement production also remained unchanged at 4.1 billion tons in 2020.
China was the world’s biggest producer of the construction material with 2.2 billion tons, posting no change compared to 2019. It was followed by India with 340 million tons.
Vietnam was the third biggest producer in the world with 96 million tons, down by 1 million tons year-on-year.
Next in line were the US with 90 million tons, Indonesia with 73 million tons and Turkey with 66 million tons.
Turkey's annual output experienced a rise of 9 million tons, USGS data show.
Iran was followed by Russia with 56 million tons, Brazil with 57 million tons, Japan with 53 million tons and South Korea and Egypt with 50 million tons each.
Iran was the world’s eighth biggest cement producer in 2018 with 58 million tons, while Turkey was the seventh biggest producer with 72.5 million tons. However, as Turkey’s production declined in 2019, Iran occupied the seventh place, according to Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation.
The country's cement production capacity is 85 million tons, of which 65 million tons are consumed domestically.
Decline in Exports
Latest data show exports of cement chain products totaled 7.63 million tons worth $163 million over the first seven months of last Iranian year (March 20-Oct.21, 2020), showing a 24% and 11% decline in tonnage and value respectively compared with the similar period of last year, according to a Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade report.
India, Afghanistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Kenya, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, China and Oman are the main export destinations for Iranian cement.
Abdolreza Sheikhan, secretary of Iran's Cement Producers Association, blames the decline in exports on lower demand in neighboring countries, particularly Iraq.
Iraq was once the main export destination of Iran’s cement but it has suspended its import from Iran.
“With the help of European countries, Iraqis established factories with a production capacity of 40 million tons and no longer need Iran’s cement,” said Hamid Hosseini, a member of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce. adding
“At first, they increased cement import tariffs and then imposed an occasional ban. Iraq is now only purchasing clinker from Iran.”
Clinker is a solid material produced in the manufacture of Portland cement as an intermediary product. It occurs as lumps or nodules, usually 3 millimeters to 25 millimeters in diameter. It is produced by sintering (fusing together without melting to the point of liquefaction) limestone and alumino-silicate materials such as clay during the cement kiln stage.
Noting that costs associated with the production of clinker are very high for regional countries, because of which they prefer to import rather than produce it, Sheikhan said, “Iraq used to account for 30% of Iran’s cement exports. Today, Afghanistan is the main importer of cement from Iran, which pays between $50-60 per ton for importing cement from Pakistan compared with $25 per ton from Iran, plus transportation and customs. Five-month exports of cement to Afghanistan reached 584,000 tons.”
Kazakhstan’s government also introduced a ban on import of certain types of cement from countries outside the Eurasian Economic Union for a period of six months last year, according to Behrouz Hosn-Olfat, an official with the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran.
“The ban, effective from April 28, applied to Portland cement, clinker, alumina cement and other types of hydraulic cement.”
The official told IRNA that the ban will impact our cement producers since Kazakhstan is a main export destination of Iranian cement.
According to the official, the reason for the ban was declining cement demand in Kazakhstan due to the halt in construction projects caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 as well as the fall in the neighboring country's exports.
"We have lost one of our main cement export destinations and this will have unexpected negative impacts on our industry and producers will incur hefty damages," Mohammad Lahouti, the head of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture’s Exports Confederation, was quoted as saying by ILNA.
“More than 17.5 million tons of cement and clinker were exported from Iran in the fiscal 2019-20, registering a 32% growth compared with the previous year,” Sheikhan was quoted as saying by Mizan Online.
“Cement accounted for 6.7 million tons and clinker for 10.8 million tons of the total sum.”
Iran has begun cement exports via railroad to Central Asia countries, particularly Turkmenistan, IRNA reported earlier in April.
The exports began by sending three 68-ton cargo wagons from the northern province of Golestan.
Prior to this, provincial businessmen had to forward this product by trucks to Inche-Boroun Train Station near Gonbad-e Kavous city, from where it was exported to Central Asian countries, the report added.
Moreover, a bulk clinker transportation rail line was recently launched in the southern Khuzestan Province’s Shalamcheh border crossing.
“Prior to this, loading and unloading of clinker used to take place in Khorramshahr Port, which had caused environmental hazards,” Ali Mousavi, the deputy head of Arvand Free Trade Zone for Investment and Business Expansion Affairs, was quoted as saying by IRNA.