Economy, Business And Markets

New Hope for Aluminum Sector

New Hope for Aluminum SectorNew Hope for Aluminum Sector

Iran’s aluminum industry is going through a tough time, as limited reserves cannot meet the growing domestic demand and it is on the hunt for alternative sources of raw materials.

The country’s only source of bauxite, the main material used in the production of alumina, is Jajrom Mine located in the city of Jajrom in North Khorasan Province, with a production capacity of less than 20 million tons.

 The high cost of importing the raw materials and energy consumption has caused IRALCO and Al-Mahdi aluminum production complexes–two of Iran’s biggest aluminum production facilities–to underperform and produce 60,000 tons less than their 360,000 annual production capacity. This is while Iran aims to increase production to 1.5 million tons by the end of the National Vision Plan (2005-25) , Eghtesad News reported.

Based on new findings, it is possible to replace bauxite with nepheline syenite beneficiation to produce alumina. Fortunately, reserves of about 1.2 billion tons of this mineral have been discovered in Sarab city of East Azarbaijan Province and investments have been made to extract this mineral.

This could just be what the industry needs, as using nepheline syenite for alumina production is about 20% cheaper than using bauxite, as its byproducts can be used for producing cement and sodium, potassium and phosphate carbonates. This would also considerably reduce the country’s reliance on alumina imports.

“The government has recently put the Sarab nepheline syenite mine out to tender and is seeking foreign investors to undertake the project,” said the director of the national project of producing alumina from Sarab’s nepheline syenite, Mohammad Jafar Ozmaei, last week.

According to Mehdi Karbasian, deputy minister of industries, mining and trade, President Hassan Rouhani plans to visit France and Italy in November to sign agreements on development of 15 mining projects, including aluminum production.

Karbasian noted that aluminum and steel projects have piqued the interest of Italian companies, while French firms are eying aluminum projects and technical cooperation.

Iran is currently the 20th largest producer of aluminum in the world, producing about 375,000 tons of aluminum ingots per year.