China Nonferrous Metal Group has signed a $712m contract to help fund the development of a steel plant in Iran, the Beijing-based company said in a statement on 16 January.

The company will provide engineering, design, equipment supply and installation, construction and training services for Iranian steelmaker Butia.

Western investors and contractors have largely been frozen out of the Iranian projects market due to US-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s economy, but China has defended the two countries’ trade relations.