Economy, Business And Markets

Zinc, Lead Lagging Behind Other Mineral Industries

Zinc, Lead Lagging Behind  Other Mineral IndustriesZinc, Lead Lagging Behind  Other Mineral Industries

Due to lack of sufficient government support for domestic lead and zinc sectors, Iranian investors now prefer to invest in countries such as Turkey, said a member of the Iranian Lead and Zinc Industries and Mines Association (ILZIMA).

“The lead and zinc industries have been deprived of government support in the past few years and the recent lead and zinc explorations in Turkey are regarded as a threat to our domestic industries”, said Ebrahim Jamili, a member of ILZIMA’s board of directors.

Pointing that the lead and zinc sectors are among the few mineral sectors wherein the private sector plays a dominant role – unlike more government-dominated industries such as steel, copper and aluminum – the official urged the administration to support the private sector by offering it abandoned exploration sites for re-exploration.

The ILZIMA member also said only 35% of the raw material in the zinc and lead processing units is supplied domestically while the remaining is supplied through imports, noting that the launch of Mehdiabad Mine in central Yazd province is “expected to substantially increase the domestic capacity for producing the raw material.”  

As a country with the world’s largest zinc reserves, Iran has not seized the opportunity to become the world’s leading zinc producer. Iran is currently the fourth biggest zinc producer in Asia. Experts believe investment in the zinc and lead sector in Iran could lead to bigger returns than any other base metal.

According to head of Iran’s Mine House, Mirmohammad Sadeqi, “the private sector’s failure to work in tandem and improve its technical capabilities” is also to blame, in spite of great economic potential in the mining sector.”

Zinc is the fourth most commonly used metal, next only to iron, aluminum, and copper. About 70% of the world’s zinc originates from mining, while the remaining 30% comes from recycling. Iran has the nominal capacity to produce 3 million tons of zinc per year, but according to industry experts, the actual production rate is only one third of the full capacity.

Iran’s zinc and lead mines are often criticized for low efficiency, which is considered as the main reason behind investor reluctance to finance projects. This, according to the secretary of Iran Mine House, Mohammad-Reza Bahraman, “can change only through modernizing the mines and using new technologies for mineral processing.”