He added that cement production capacity will rise by more than 50 per cent within five years.

“At least 21 million tonnes of new capacity will be added in the next one to two years,” said Basiri.

“On present plans, capacity could rise to 90 million tonnes in the next three-four years. We hope that Iran will become a major cement exporter.”

A total of 33 new cement projects will add 30 million tonnes of new capacity in Iran by 2012, added Basiri. This compares with current capacity of 55 million tonnes.

This is about 2 million tonnes more than current consumption, Basiri said. He also said the government has promised to lift barriers to cement exports.

“The cement union has been promised the $100 a tonne tax on exports will be lifted” said Basiri.

The end of the export tax is expected within weeks, according to Iran cement industry executives.

The possible markets include the GCC, Iraq and Afghanistan, said Basiri.