Iran's Iron Ore Exporters Stay the Course
Thursday, 13 August, 2019
In brief: Exports of Iranian iron ore have remained steady in the face of escalating tensions in the Mideast Gulf and there are few signs that China, which receives about 95pc of these volumes, will fall in line with US government sanctions.
IMIDRO data show exports of iron ore concentrate, iron ore fines/lumps and iron ore pellet earned $380.95 million, $258.75 million and $201.92 million respectively, meaning $840 million were exported from the country during the month.
Iran's major trading partners are China (27%), India (15%), South Korea (11%), Turkey (11%), Italy (6%) and Japan (5%), according to the US CIA World Factbook.
Iron ore is Iran's most critical metals export. The country exported about 15 million mt of iron ore last year - but still only about 1% of all seaborne iron ore trade.
Iranian iron and steel executives consulted notes that the new US sanctions will not stop the export of steel and iron ore.
Keyvan Jafari Tehrani, head of international affairs at Iropex, the Iron Ore Producers & Exporters' Association of Iran, says that even while the news of the latest US sanctions was "unfortunate and may affect exports of some these (metals and mine) items," business with some major trading partners was expected to continue.
Iran's iron ore pellet exports rose sharply in the last Iranian year (to March 20, 2019), according to Iranian mines and metals state holding firm Imidro. Iranian producers exported some 2.78 million mt of iron ore pellet, valued at $202 million, during the year -- a 658% year-on-year volume increase and 577% higher in total value.
Some 5.52 million mt of concentrated iron ore, valued at $380 million was exported in the last Iranian year as well -- a 399% on-year volume increase and 341% higher in total value. Iranian non-concentrated iron ore exports fell by 53% in the period to 8.84 million mt, according to Imidro.
Trade of steel, aluminum, graphite and coal with Iran was already subject to restrictions after the August 2018 sanctions -- yet steel exports have continued, albeit at reduced rates.
Iranian steelmakers exported 5.54 million mt of steel in the last Iranian year (to March 20), a 25% decrease compared to the previous year. (This Imidro data excludes exports by smaller private-sector producers.)
Iranian mills exported 1.65 million mt of rebar in the last Iranian year (to March 20) mainly to neighboring countries - a 177% increase compared to the previous year, data from the Iranian Steel Producers Association (ISPA) shows.