The metal industry accounted for 19.81% of the total value added of the entire industrial activities, thus, after chemical materials and products is assumed as the second most important industry. The index for basic metals production increased to 106.4 in the year ended March 2017 (constant price; 2012) up from 2.6% in comparison to the year ended March 2016. Metal industry contribution of the GDP has had an increasing trend over the recent years, from 1.8% to 2.1% .
Iran is considered as one of the largest producers of steel products in the Middle East, according to the World Iron and Steel Association and it produced about 18.5 mn tons of crude steel in 2016. Again this year, Iran was known as the 14th largest producer of crude steel in the world. The year ended March 2017, Iran’s crude steel production capacity reached 29 mn tons, with the maximum utilization of the capacity required to increase domestic or export demand by around 10 mn tons. According to the vision 2025, Iran’s crude steel production capacity should reach 55 mn tons.
Production & consumption
Compared to the previous year, Iran’s steel production increased by 7.6% the year ended March 2017. Steel has grown 4% in total steel products and 11% in crude steel in the year ended March 2017. Billet and Bloom and Slab, had the highest share of steel production with 27.4% and 24.3%, respectively. Steel consumption has been declining since the year ended March 2017 and in the same year, the consumption per capita of steel was 241.2 kg.
In the year 2016, Iran’s steel production increased to 17.9 mn tons, higher than industrial countries such as France, Spain and Canada. As the world’s 14th largest steel producer and having the share of the world’s total steel production by 1.1%, Iran is also the largest producer of steel in the Middle East.
Import & Export
Due to increased demand in the Chinese market, prices have begun to increase, as a result importing to Iran became tougher. On the other hand, this led to an increase in export of steel products from Iran, especially in crude steel such as billet and slab, this increase in export was very serious. In the year ended March 2017, steel products import and export fell by 31% and 16%, while in crude steel increased by 44% and 108%, respectively. In the year ended March 2017, with the growth of steel export and the decrease in import, export were more than import for the first time and the trade balance has been positive.
The largest share of steel export from April to August 2017 is related to slabs and billet and bloom 44.7 and 38.9, respectively.
In terms of mineral reserves, Iran is rich and located on the global copper belt. The copper reserves are estimated at around 2 bn tons. Considering the copper grade, the existing reserve is estimated at 18 mn tons, which accounts for about 4% of the world’s copper reserves on a global scale. Currently, there are 39 mines in Iran including Kerman with 14 mines, Zanjan 5 mines, East Azerbaijan 4 mines, Qazvin, Semnan, Khorasan Razavi, 3 mines, South Khorasan, Yazd, Qom, Markazi, Fars, Sistan and Baluchestan and Tehran each one having 1 mine. Of the mentioned mines, 17 mines are active, including Sarcheshmeh copper mine with a proven reserve of 826 mn tons, Sungun 440 mn tons and Meydok 144 mn tons.
By producing 201,000 tons, Iran gained the world’s 23rd refined copper production in 2016, with the world share of copper production at 0.9%. Also, in Asia, Iran ranked 7th in refined copper production, with the share of 1.6% in the same year.
Consuming 147,000 tons of copper, Iran obtained the world’s 24th place, accounting for 0.7% in 2016 and in Asia had the 12th place in refined copper consumption, with the share of to be 0.9%.
In copper production, Iran has been able to reach a respectable position over the past few years, with copper export rising in the year ended March 2017, which amounted to 518 mn USD (175,000 tons), equivalent to 146% in value and 339% in weight compared to the same period in the previous year. The improvement in production and export conditions of National Iranian Copper Industries Company was the main factor in export growth over the previous year. Meanwhile, the global price of copper fluctuated from 4,500 to 6,400 USD in the year ended March 2017, compared to the same period last year.
With abundant and cheap energy, Iran owns about 355,000 tons of aluminum production each year and import and export amount by 250,000 and 181,000 tons, respectively. Aluminum consumption rose from 223,000 tons in the year ended March 2006 to about 423,000 tons in the year ended March 2017, which means an average annual growth of 9%, the trend which will lead to a consumption of 655,000 tons in 2021. The capacity of the downstream industries in the aluminum sector, such as sheets, strap, tube, profiles, containers and other parts, is about 800,000 tons per year. Currently, there are about 6,000 people working directly and 16,000 factories and workshops with more than 250,000 people in the aluminum related industries.
After steel, aluminum constitutes the most volume of export in Iran with total 237 mn USD in the year ended March 2017, weighting 137,000 tons, which increased 5.3% in value and 13.3% in weight compared to the same period of last year. In spite of the global aluminum price increase, the domestic higher demand is the main reason for export decline. Therefore, demand in the domestic market, on the one hand and competitive conditions in foreign markets on the other hand, have forced manufacturers to focus on the domestic market. Turkey and Taiwan have the largest share of Iranian aluminum export with 30% and 21%, respectively.
Lead & Zinc
The zinc ingot production capacity is 451,000 tons and lead ingot is 421,000 tons per year, also lead and zinc capacity are more than 2 mn tons. A large part of industrial raw materials and access to operational capacity of production units will be fulfilled with the exploit of Mehdi Abad mine. Iran is the 4th largest producer of lead and zinc in Asia after China, Kazakhstan and India. At present, more than 9% of the world’s lead and zinc reserves have been detected in Iran, but the amount of production and export do not even account for world 1% proportion. Currently, Iran produces about 140,000 tons of zinc in 7 large and 45 small factories annually. By 2025 this amount will increase to 300,000 tons per year. Of the 82 industrial units, there are 71 units of zinc ingot and 11 units of flotation, of which 46 are zinc ingot production units based in Zanjan province.
Due to lack of access to the required amount of soil with proper grade, currently, most lead-zinc production units are less than their nominal capacity. In fact, according to the amount of lead and zinc extraction from the Anguran mine, which is only 30% feed for hydrometallurgy units. The remaining mines will provide about 20% to 30% of the needs of production units. Anguran of Zanjan, Nakhlak of Isfahan, Mehdi Abad of Yazd, Kouch of Bafgh and Ahangaran of Malayer are of the most important lead and zinc mines. Except for 2 mines, the remaining are exploited by the private and cooperative sector. Lead and zinc mines in Iran is government-owned and land exploitation and sale is tendered annually.
Lead and its products export amounted to 171 mn USD, in the year ended March 2017 with a weight of 92,000 tons, in ingot, compared to the same period of the last year, with an increase of 33% in value and a 30% increase in weight. Zinc and its products export amounted to 220 mn USD, with a weight of 127,000 tons (99% ingot), which was 24% higher in value and 38% in weight, the year ended March 2017 compared to the same period of last year.
- Mines and Minerals richness
- Active participation of the private sector
- Access to production technologies
- Development of manufacturing machinery and equipment companies
- Potentials in copper production units
- Open-pit copper mines in Iran
- High quality products
- Aluminum production is competitive, since produced based on international standards
- The infrastructure weakness as the main problems
- Exploration sector is the foremost problem with lead and zinc reserves, the reserves are not as discoverable as possible and as a result, their proven reserves are not properly set, while abandoned reserves require a re-examination, which requires cost and information
- The lack of financial resources
- The customs duties and taxes on import of minerals and concentrates from neighboring countries
- The lack of incentives for the raw materials supply by neighboring countries.
- Despite the lack of adequate minerals, increasing the licensing of small zinc ingot companies, which indicate obstacles to this industry development
- Soil shortage as the main problem
- Access to energy sources
- High demand in domestic and foreign markets
- Government’s support for development
- Iran’s strategic position in copper industry
- Appropriate access to target markets
- Low taxes for copper producers
- Domestic and foreign demand for copper cathode
- Increase in zinc consumption in food and drug compounds in developing countries
- Waste cake zinc-rich as becoming new sources in recent years
- Lack of infrastructure development
- Inability of manufacturing units to meet financial needs
- Environmental constraints
- Non predictable price of production inputs
- Regional competitors’ advancement due to increased technology transfer rates
- High water consumption and lack of proper access to water resources, especially in the southern mines
Irregular import of steel and its products
- Lack of attention to steel upstream base
Investment advantages & incentives
Growing market with more than 34 mn tons of imported products is one of the advantages in steel production. The MENA region with GDP of 2,700 bn USD and the world 3.7% GDP has the regional annual demand of 71.8 mn tons, equivalent to 4.8% of world demand. The annual production of MENA is 36.2 mn tons, equivalent to 2.2% of the world’s steel, all of which indicate that Iran is in an area that has actually a favorable market for steel products.
Approximately 87% of Iran’s steel is provided as direct reduction and produced with natural gas; according to the Iranian Parliament assigned in the sixth development plan, the price of gas for energy industries such as steel is 90% lower than the price of the region and in deprived areas this figure is about 80%, which aligns the production of steel by direct reduction method at an incentive price for gas.
The rich zinc of waste cakes (zinc cake) in recent years, which, along with new technologies, is becoming new reserve for the industry.
Lead and zinc are among the industries that have a comparative advantage and currently, the growth in this industry has been due to private sector activities. The presence of lead and zinc reserves, especially the Mahdi Abad Mine, has the potential of rich reserves in 91% undiscovered land and adjacent to vast and prestigious countries of lead and zinc such as Turkey, Armenia and Kazakhstan and most importantly, the creation of rich infrastructure and the full chain production in the country with an annual production capacity of 451,000 tons of zinc ingots has caused Iran to have a comparative advantage in lead and zinc industry, compared with neighboring countries.
- Iran is a great market for steel consumption. 25% of Middle Eastern steel is consumed in Iran. There is also a good regional market, such as Iraq and Afghanistan and North neighboring countries, which can be described as an opportunity. By improving communications with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the opportunity to export to the markets of the region is also provided.
- Due to the availability of resources for gas, iron ore and electricity and in general, the energy and manpower can be taken into account and provide growth and profitability.
- Rich mineral reserves
- As the 4th largest producer of lead and zinc in Asia after China, Kazakhstan and India and being located on copper global belt Iran owns valuable reserves that could be advantageous for the development
- As a great local market for mining industries, Iran uses 20 mn tons of Steel and more than 300,000 tons of Aluminum ingot per year.
- Increasing grade of chrome and manganese
- Processing sludge containing gold, silver and selenium in anode production
- Titanium processing and producing pigments in its oxides
- Gold concentrate and ingot
- Extracting Rare Earth Elements (REE)
- Extracting magnesium from dolomite
- Extracting silver, cadmium and cobalt from lead and zinc wastes
- Silicone metal
- Ferro silicomanganese
- Aluminum ingot
- Cathode Copper
- Low Thickness Copper foils
- Seamless Steel pipes
- Oil drilling pipes
- Small diameter copper pipes
- Steel alloy wires with 5.2 to 15 mm thickness (in skein form)
- Aluminum foils with sub 9 mm thickness
- Aluminum coverings
- Special Aluminum alloy sheets (deep drawing)
- Cast Iron automobile parts (automobile gearbox casing and other related industrial parts)
Metal industry in Capital Market
The metals group is one of the major stock exchange industries, with a market value of 13,840 mn USD, equivalent to 13.4% of the total stock market value. The P / E ratio of the basic metals group is 6.09.