There is only one producer of magnesium ingot in Iran: Royal Metal Ingot Company (founded in 2014), located in the city of Ferdows, South Khorasan Province. The companyís plant has an annual production capacity of 6,000 tons, extracting magnesium from dolomite ore using the Pidgeon process. Nearly 40% of its capacity has already been realized full capacity is projected by September 2017.
According to Alireza Sadeqi, technical advisor of Royal Metal Ingot,
at full capacity the company can meet domestic demand and also enter the lucrative international magnesium export market.
The plant uses an indigenous version of the Pidgeon process for magnesium production, a process that uses silicon as a reducing agent at high temperature to cause an exothermic chemical reaction.
The Pidgeon process uses less energy compared to electrolytic processes and is also technologically less complicated, making it easier to achieve using domestic machinery.
The methodís required distillation and vapor disposition conditions also enable it to produce a higher-purity product.
Iran sees untapped potential in the magnesium production sector as research has indicated the global magnesium market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.73% by volume during 2016-20.
Magnesium boasts a range of unique characteristics: It has the lowest density of all the metal elements, making it the lightest among them; it is superbly resilient, yet easily manipulated by machine tooling. Magnesium is similar to its sister metal, aluminum, but is 34% and 70% lighter than both aluminum and steel, making it a solution of choice for lightweight materials required in the transportation industry.
Royal Metals Ingotís Sadeqi believes that developing the magnesium sector has distinct advantages compared to steel and aluminum development:
--Magnesium production requires no water. Iranian steel mills presently consume over 169 million cubic meters of water per year.
Steelmakers also plan to expand their output, per goals set in the 20-Year Vision Plan (2005-25) to 55 million tons. Huge investments are required to provide all mills with adequate water resources. Many of Iranís major steelmakers and most of the proposed plant construction projects are located in central Iran, away from any major water sources.
--The modular nature of a magnesium plantís design. Production capacity can be modified as needed by adding or removing machinery and equipment from the production line.
This advantage will reduce the required raw material feedstock and maintain profitability even in low quantities, in contrast to other mineral production processes. For example, steel and aluminum output is not economically justified under 800,000 and 350,000 tons respectively per year.
--Magnesium manufacture utilizes liquefied natural gas, which is one of Iranís most abundant sources of energy--amounting to18.2% of world reserves--and the cheapest available in the region.
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