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That is a year-on-year increase of 23% for the period from March 20, 2012, to January 20.

Almost all of the ore was dispatched to China through spot transactions, handled by Iranian traders or representatives of Chinese buyers.

The rise in exports was supported by the depreciation of the Iranian rial against hard currencies over the past two years.

The local currency lost around two-thirds of its value against the US dollar from 12,000 rials to $1 two years ago to 37,000 rials at present.