“Maintaining the steel value chain is critical during sanctions”
Board Member at Sirjan Iranian Steel:

“Maintaining the steel value chain is critical during sanctions”

“Right now, maintaining the steel value chain is critically important; balance should be maintained not only for iron ore, concentrate, pellets, etc. but also for infrastructures such as transportation, energy, and so on. Steel is a basic industry that has proven capable of good exports even during sanctions. Iran has great potential in the steel industry and resistive economy means economic diversification away from oil toward industries such as steel,” said Reza Ashraf Semnani, board member at Sirjan Iranian Steel.

“Production must continue during sanctions, but everything needs to be taken into consideration. There are some rolling mills that have been improperly located and don’t have good products; it is not necessary to try to maintain their production and supply them with high-quality raw materials. The whole steel value chain must conform to the economic logic. Other producers should not be forced to supply uneconomical, inefficient production plants with raw materials.”

Ashraf Semnani said that iron ore does not need to be exported extensively: “Iron ore export brings less added value than steel. Moreover, any foreign currency earned from iron ore exports must return to the steel industry and be spent on mining development. By establishing a processing plant, added value can be created from raw iron ore; years late, iron ore export can be replaced by exports of products with higher added value.”

Consultant to the CEO of MIDHCO, Ashraf Semnani talked about the serious damage that would be done to the steel industry: “Official pricing has hurt the steel value chain. It is done on the pretext of supporting downstream business and is far from rational. The government should only support the industry, and if it interferes, it should be to support production not hinder it.”

Regarding government support for explorations, he said, “On the bright side, iron ore exploration is being carried out on a large scale, which will support the supply of raw materials for the industry in the coming years. The government should support explorations with loans and other facilities.”

The integrity of the steel industry should be protected

“The integrity of the industry can be maintained with the support during sanctions to avoid conflicts between upstream and downstream companies.

“It goes without saying that the steel industry has much greater potential provided that sufficient raw material is available. Since all countries in the region are developing nations, steel consumption is very high. Thus, the industry can be further developed; needs for currency and imports can also be obviated by barter trade.

Needs of the steel industry can be met domestically

“I can say with certainty that there are no special complications in the industry that cannot be overcome. The current achievements and facilities are not comparable with a few years ago. There are now many companies and factories working in the industry, which can support part producers, founders, and other dependent industries. Of course, some electrical parts might need to be imported because their domestic production might not be economical.”

He pointed out that an adapted product might not be of the same quality as imported products in the early staged of adaptation: “Two points must be considered: first, as the product is produced more often, its issues are resolved; second, importing is much more difficult than purchasing domestically, due to sanctions, currency and banking issues, and customs.

“Some raw materials such as graphite electrodes and needle coke are still imported, but they can be produced domestically with proper planning. Moreover, ferroalloys and refractories can also be produced domestically. Petroleum coke and coking coal are produced in Iran; with proper planning, graphite electrodes can also be produced within two years.

“Most of the raw materials, equipment, parts, and machinery for the steel industry can be produced domestically with proper planning to minimize dependency on imports. Moreover, experienced human resources, inexpensive energy, the production of parts and equipment, and a massive capacity give the industry a competitive edge both regionally and globally. Iran’s steel industry is currently unrivaled in the region; even Turkey, whose steel production is greater than Iran’s, heavily depends on foreign resources. If the US imposes sanctions on Turkey for any reason, its steel industry will be seriously hurt.”

To conclude, Ashraf Semnani expressed hopes and said that plans should not be suddenly changed: “With a practical, stable plan for the entire value chain, as well as cooperation between the public and private sector, the steel industry will remain intact and it will also have a significant boom”

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