Economy, Business And Markets

Export of Decorative Stones Lags Behind Extraction

Export of Decorative Stones Lags Behind Extraction  Export of Decorative Stones Lags Behind Extraction

The northwestern province of West Azarbaijan, which has some of the most diverse decorative stone resources among Iranian provinces, exports only 40% of the minerals it extracts every year, ILNA quoted the ministry of industry, mine and trade on Wednesday.

According to the report, at least 2 million metric tons of decorative stones are extracted from 217 mines across the province but only 800,000 metric tons are exported.

During the past Iranian calendar year (ended March 20, 2014), some 110 million square meters of decorative stones were produced in Iran and the figure is expected to grow to 115 million square meters this year. With an annual extraction of at least 2.4 billion metric tons of decorative stones, Iran stands among the top five countries in terms of decorative stone extraction. However, during the past two decades, export of decorative stones has not been able to keep up with the extraction rate.

Around 20 million metric tons of decorative stones including marbles, granites, and travertine are extracted annually but less than 5% of the amount is exported. Market experts say 15.5 million metric tons of decorative stones were extracted in the Iranian calendar year 1391 (ended March 20, 2013) worth 5.2 trillion rials ($153.8 million). Throughout the year 1392 (ended March 20, 2014) stone extraction slumped to 15.2 million metric tons, valued at 5.54 trillion rials ($163.9 million). The government royalty was 1.71 trillion rials, and 8 trillion rials, respectively, in these two years.

Estimates show that the global consumption of decorative stones, which totaled 886 million square meters in 2004, would dramatically grow to 4.9 billion square meters in 2025. This is while Iran has a very small share of this growing market. Experts say an important reason for that is the old machinery used for extraction and processing of decorative stones, many of which are as old as 40 years.  Despite the sluggish rate of decorative stone exports, the mining sector in general has recorded the highest growth rate among the manufacturing sectors, based on a report released by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).

According to the report, the mining sector has experienced a 10.5% growth during the first half of the current Iranian year (started March 21, 2014), which is 2.5 times more than the gross domestic production (GDP) of 4%.

The considerable growth in the mining sector has been achieved while the growth rate for the sector declined to an unprecedented -0.3 during the second quarter of the previous Iranian year.

The CBI report says electricity, natural gas, and water sectors follow the mining sector in terms of growth. The service sector witnessed a 2.5% growth during the six-month period, while financial and monetary institutions were the most successful in the service sector recording a growth of 15.2%.