Economy, Business And Markets

Iran’s Fast-Rising Iodine Production

Iran’s Fast-Rising Iodine ProductionIran’s Fast-Rising Iodine Production

Iran’s iodine production sector has grown at a fast pace.

In less than a decade, the country has not only become self-sufficient in iodine production, but it has also increasingly embarked on exporting this mineral to effectively monopolize the Middle East market.

Iodine is only found in certain parts of the world, with the coasts of the Pacific Ocean and the Caspian Sea being the main sources. It is mainly produced by Chile, Japan, Azerbaijan, the United States, China, Iran, Indonesia, Russia and Turkmenistan.

Iran is currently the world’s sixth largest producer of iodine, SMT Daily reported.

Iodine reserves in Iran were first discovered 1,200 meters deep underground in Aq-Qala County of Golestan Province as a result of explorations undertaken on the eastern coast of Caspian Sea by Kansar Khazar Company in 2004.

About 1,200 tons of proven and 5,000 tons of probable reserves were found in the Incheh Iodine Mine. The company soon established the Middle East’s largest iodine processing plants in close proximity to the mine.

Iodine is mainly produced using the naturally-occurring brine. The brine is first purified and acidified using sulfuric acid, then the iodide present is oxidized to iodine with chlorine.

An iodine solution is produced, but is dilute and must be concentrated. Air is blown into the solution, causing the iodine to evaporate, then passed into an absorbing tower containing acid where sulfur dioxide is added to reduce the iodine, which is then filtered, purified and packed.

The rare element is primarily utilized in pharmaceutical, petrochemical and hi-tech industries. It is used in the production of disinfectants, acetic acids, rubber, pigments, tires, high-grade alloys, LCDs, food additives and electronics.

In fact, the element’s wide-reaching applications have created a considerable international demand for it.

According to Mansour Khajeh, managing director of Kansar Khazar, each kilogram of iodine is currently sold for $40 and is expected to grow even more in value.

Golestan Province is home to Iran’s only source of iodine. Miners extract about 300 tons of the element every year, with the annual domestic demand standing at about 150 tons, according to Hosseinqoli Qavanlou, the head of Golestan’s Industries, Mining and Trade Organization.

Also, the province’s two iodine processing plants annually produce 230 tons of iodine crystals with a purity of 99.9%

“In addition to fully meeting the domestic demand, the company exports its excess production,” he said.

Kansar Khazar exported close to 100 tons of the processed mineral to China, Italy, India, Pakistan, the UAE and Georgia valued at $10 million in the last Iranian year (March 2015-16).