Economy, Business And Markets

Multinationals Flocking to Mining Sector

Multinationals Flocking to Mining Sector Multinationals Flocking to Mining Sector

Deputy minister of industry, mine, and trade, Mehdi Karbasian, says multinational mining firms from 15 countries have offered to invest in Iran's mining and mineral industries, Mehr news agency reported.

"Foreigners find Iran's mining and mineral industries sector very attractive owing to the large variety of minerals. We have received offers for investment from companies in Germany, Spain, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Belgium, Kuwait, Oman and the UK, while a number of multinational mining companies from Germany, Denmark, India, and Kazakhstan have also expressed willingness to cooperate in the development of mining projects", said the deputy minister.

Canada, France, Australia, Switzerland, and South Korea have also offered to take part in exploration projects and operations and negotiations with these countries are underway, added Karbasian, who is also the chairman of the executive board at the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO).

> Obstacles, Incentives

According to the deputy minister, the biggest obstacle in the way of finalizing and signing the contracts is the money transaction problems caused by western sanctions against Iran – over its nuclear energy program – which are expected to be lifted if a nuclear agreement is reached in July.

The IMIDRO chief also touched upon the incentives offered by the administration to foreign investors, saying investors will be granted 25-year concessions to exploit the mines.

He also referred to the 10.7% growth in the mining and mineral industry in the past Iranian calendar year (ended March 20) and expressed hope that the sector will spur economic growth.

"We have focused our efforts on absorbing domestic and foreign financiers to complete suspended projects, set up and implement new mining projects, and expand the exploration operations to increase extraction", Karbasian noted.

Over the past 18 months, as much as 200,000 square kilometers of the country has been explored and aerially surveyed to discover new mineral resources including iron and copper ores as well as gold, zinc, and lead. According to IMIDRO officials, the exploration operations, which started in the eastern regions, in particular Sangan area in Khorasan Razavi Province, are supposed to expand to the western half of the country within the current Iranian year.

> Explorations in Qom Province

As a case in point, the administration plans to explore 4,000 square kilometers in Qom Province south of Tehran. To implement the operations, the industry, mine and trade organization in the province signed an agreement with the Geological Survey of Iran last year based on which the aerial geophysical surveys are to be implemented. The mining investments in the province grew considerably last year and hit 1 trillion rials (more than $35 million based on official currency exchange rate), IRNA quoted head of industry organization in Qom Province, Ahmad Zakeri, as saying during the ceremony to inaugurate the aerial exploration operations. The new explorations are said to create some 1,800 jobs.

According to Zakeri, the mining royalties received from the mines in Qom showed a 45% growth last year compared to the preceding year. He added that 14 exploration concessions as well as 14 discovery licenses were granted last year.