Economy, Business And Markets

Int’l Investors Invited to Develop Mining Sector

Int’l Investors Invited to  Develop Mining SectorInt’l Investors Invited to  Develop Mining Sector

Iran will seek bids from international investors for implementing 15 mining projects, with production of zinc to gold and iron ore seen getting a boost with the end of sanctions.

President Hassan Rouhani plans to visit France and Italy in November to sign development agreements on some of the projects, according to Mehdi Karbasian, deputy minister of industries, mining and trade.

"Tenders to implement the 15 projects should be issued within the next four months, with the first one proposed in October to develop the Nikouyeh gold mine west of Tehran," he said.

Iran’s gold production is forecast to triple from the 2013 output to 10,000 kilograms (321,507 troy ounces) by next year, with iron ore, steel, chromite, aluminum, bauxite, copper and zinc output also growing, according to the US Geological Survey.

The country reached a deal with international powers in July to ease sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear program and the rapprochement will pave the way for expanded access for overseas companies, wrote Bloomberg's BusinessWeek.

“We will not put any restrictions on the participation of international companies interested in Iran’s mining industry,” Karbasian said. “Interested parties can come forward for 100% ownership or enter into joint partnerships with us or do so with a local or international company of their choice.”

In the Middle East and North Africa, Iran and Morocco are the major miners of metals, according to Mowafa Taib, USGS’s lead minerals analyst for the region.

"Iran's aluminum production will grow to 1 million tons by next year from 820,000 tons in 2013 and copper output will be 500,000 tons by 2020 compared with 220,000 tons in 2013," Taib said.

It also has bauxite, lead, zinc, chromite, steel and iron ore.

Keyvan Jafari Tehrani, head of international affairs at the Iranian Iron Ore Producers and Exporters Association, said Iran is seeking $20 billion to develop a domestic steel industry instead of courting overseas sales because of a worldwide glut.

According to USGS’s Taib, the country’s production of iron ore, used to make steel, will rise to 40 million tons next year from 38 million tons in 2013. Karbasian said in August steel output is set to jump to 55 million tons by 2025 from 22 million tons this year.

Aluminum and steel projects have generated the interest of Italian companies, while French firms are eying aluminum and “technical cooperation,” Karbasian said.

Deputy Industries, Mining and Trade Minister Jafar Sargheyni invited foreign firms to cooperate in the mineral exploration projects of about 100 mineral-rich zones covering more than 200,000 square kilometers in the east of Iran. He made the statement during the 11th International Exhibition for Construction Machinery, Mining, Building Materials and Natural Stone Industry on Sunday.  

The three-day exhibition is being held in Tehran with the participation of mineral firms and experts from more than 11 countries.

Among the participants is the Polish mining and metallurgy giant KGHM Polska Miedz. The company, which is one of the largest producers of copper and silver in the world, has expressed readiness to invest in Iran and cooperate in underground mine design, extraction and processing of minerals, mining machinery manufacturing, establishing copper smelting plants and providing explosives and blasting systems.

Iran is among the world’s top 10 countries in terms of mineral resources. It has estimated mineral reserves of 60 billion tons, or 7% of that available on Earth. About 68 types of minerals have been identified in the country so far. These resources are reportedly worth $1 trillion.