Economy, Business And Markets

Investment Opportunities in Mineral Processing

Investment Opportunities in Mineral ProcessingInvestment Opportunities in Mineral Processing

Investment in different stages of mineral processing is believed to be one of the vacuums in Iran’s industrial arena. Completion of mining value chain poses a challenge, which requires major investment and technical expertise. If done correctly, it will ultimately bring about balanced growth of interconnected sectors, prevent raw material exports and pave the way for optimum use of mining resources.

Forsate-e Emrooz daily has weighed investment opportunities in mineral processing in an interview with one of the key players of the sector, Abolfazl Salehabadi.

“The whole picture of investment in the country’s mining gives the impression of an uneven growth in different sectors of mineral production. There are many vacuums in this sector that experts have labeled as investment opportunities,” said the managing director of Iranian Mineral Processing Company.

“Generally, the value chain in the mining industry has four main links. It begins with exploration and is then followed by exploitation. The third link is processing of the minerals and finally their trade and sales.”

In the field of extractive metallurgy, mineral processing is the process of separating commercially valuable minerals from their ores.

Activities in mining are divided into two sectors: state-run exploratory and exploitation operations in line with instructions and bylaws, which are carried out regardless of other links of value chain.

“The processing sector has also managed to absorb funds but the processing and concentration units have to grapple with problems,” he added.

Salehabadi noted that the second sector includes mines at the disposal of legal, real entities, who have mostly entered the mining sector on meager resources, mediocre consulting and run-of-the-mill technologies that have caused complications in the processing sector.

The mining expert believes that failure to complete the value chain and create optimum added value in mining has given rise to raw material export instead of final product export.

In response to a question on investment opportunities in the mineral processing, he said, to start with, investments can be directed toward completion of the value chain of minerals that have partly undergone the concentration process. In mineral processing, concentration means the increase of the percentage of the valuable mineral in the concentrate.

“In my opinion there are investment opportunities in iron, copper, magnesium, lead, zinc and chromite industries. In the next phase, investment should be targeted to form missing links of the processing chain. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to care about the balanced growth of all sectors. For instance, the unbalanced growth of iron ore is conspicuous whereas we have fared poorly in the middle links of steel and copper industries.”  

On the amount of investment, Salehabadi thinks that the kind of mineral the investor chooses to process determines the amount of money he should set aside.

“Other factors at play in making decision in this regard are quality and production level. Therefore investors are free to bring in 30 billion rials (about $1 million) to 10,000 billion rials (about $335 million). For example, investment in the processing of minerals needed for tile and ceramics industries can start off on low input. But rare minerals such as gold require up to 10,000 billion rials (about $335 million),” he said.

Securing the permits, including those from the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization would take more than a year, he noted.

The mineral industries’ expert believes that investment in this field would be profitable without giving an exact figure.