Iranian state mills’ steel exports up 33% year-on-year

Iran’s state-owned steelmakers increased their exports by one-third in the first four months of the country’s calendar year, according to the Iranian Mines & Mining Industries Development & Renovation Organisation (Imidro).

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The mills exported 312,000 tonnes of semi-finished and finished products over four months from March 20, up by 33% over the 234,000 tonnes in the corresponding period in 2011.

The value of the sales rose by just 28%, however, to $215 million from $168 million, reflecting lower international prices.

Hot rolled flat products made up most of the export total at 292,000 tonnes. Cold rolled coil and sheet made up 41,000 tonnes and there was 25,000 tonnes of coated flat products, mostly hot dip galvanized coil.

Iran also exported 89,000 tonnes of bars and rods, 68,000 tonnes of profiles and 21,000 tonnes of semi-finished products.

Total mill exports of finished and semi-finished products for the four-month period reached 550,000 tonnes, Iranian customs authorities said. But this total excluded hollow sections, pipe, tube and rails.

A commercial manager of a mini-mill estimated that, at current sales volumes, Iran’s exports would reach 1.5-1.8 million tonnes by the end of the country’s year on March 19, 2013.

“Iran has high potential and capacities for exports, especially to Middle East and Middle Asia countries. It has easy access to countries on the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea, which is a big advantage for Iranian steelmakers,” the manager said.

“Unfortunately, we have missed out on very good markets in neighbouring countries for finished long and flat products so far,” he said.

“All Middle East countries have to import steel, as most of them do not produce crude steel. Only Saudi Arabia and Egypt have considerable production of crude steel and they still do not meet their markets’ demand,” he added.

“Russia, Ukraine and Turkey are the main sources of steel for Middle East countries,” he explained.

Iran has launched a number of domestic iron and steel projects in the past few years as it attempts to become self-sufficient in steel. But a shortage of government funding and modest private sector investment has extended many of the projects’ construction schedules.

International trading sanctions on the country have also affected development since many plant units, such as meltshops, still rely on mostly foreign-sourced equipment, which can be subject to delivery delays.

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