Economy, Business And Markets

Iranian Mining Opportunities Enumerated

Iranian Mining  Opportunities  Enumerated
Iranian Mining  Opportunities  Enumerated

Iran has an extensive plan to develop its mines and mineral industries, the head of Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization announced.

Addressing managers of large European and global banks, insurance, mining and investment firms during the Third Europe-Iran Forum in Zurich, Mehdi Karbasian also highlighted the capabilities and investment potential of Iran’s lucrative mining sector.

“We seek to cooperate with the world’s first-tier companies in achieving our goals,” he added.

The third iteration of the Europe-Iran Forum held last week was attended by top Iranian officials and economic players, as well as representatives of large-cap global companies.

The lifting of economic sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program as part of the July 14 accord reached with six major world powers has opened the path for the country to rejuvenate its industries and return to the international scene.

Oil and petrochemical sectors are the first in line, aiming to reinvigorate production capacities and reach pre-sanctions export levels of 2.2 million barrels per day in one or two months.

The country’s mining sector, however, if developed, could effectively outpace the oil sector in terms of revenues, especially considering the current low oil prices.

Iran is home to over 68 minerals, with more than 37 billion tons of proven and 57 billion tons of potential reserves, including large deposits of coal, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromium, uranium and gold.

The country holds the world’s largest zinc, ninth largest copper, 12th largest iron ore and 10th largest uranium reserves, according to the United States Geological Survey. Overall, Iran possesses more than 7% of global mineral reserves.

According to Karbasian, who is also deputy minister of industries, mining and trade, the goals set for the mining sector in the 20-Year National Vision Plan (2005-25) and the sixth five-year national development plan (2016-21) offer significant cooperation opportunities for Iran and Europe.

He noted that the envisioned plans require $40 billion in foreign investment to develop steel, aluminum, copper, gold and zinc production sectors and accelerate mineral exploration.

“Iran has one of the lowest production costs for mining and mineral industries, due to its inexpensive and abundant energy resources, low royalty rates and cheap workforce as well as access to international waters,” he said.

The Vision Plan envisages annual production of 55 million tons of steel, 800,000 tons of copper, 1.5 million tons of aluminum, 300,000 tons of zinc and 5 tons of gold by the end of 2025. Propping up production of high-value added minerals such as titanium, petroleum coke and rare earth elements are also on the agenda.

The Iranian official pointed to the government’s aim to reach an annual economic growth rate of 8% by the end of the sixth plan and said the mining sector can play a key role in achieving this goal.

The revitalization of the construction, auto and shipbuilding sectors, and the subsequent increase in demand for steel and other mineral products will help the economy move away from overreliance on oil revenues and provide ample opportunities for foreign investors.

  Business Talks on Forum’s Sidelines

Karbasian also met with a host of foreign companies’ representatives on the sidelines of the conference.

Jeremy Weir, managing director of Trafigura Beheer BV, met with the IMIDRO chief and expressed his company’s readiness to invest in Iran’s aluminum industry.

Trafigura is a Dutch multinational commodity trading company founded in 1993 and trading in base metals and energy. It is the world’s third largest private oil and metals trader after Vitol and Glencore.

The giant commodity trader was among the top five suppliers of gasoline and a regular supplier of alumina to Iran before the tightening of sanctions.

Karbasian also held talks with Gerard Terneyre, deputy director of Vallourec, during which the two sides agreed on undertaking a joint project for the construction of a seamless steel pipe production plant. Seamless pipes are used extensively in the oil and gas industries, and the country is currently an importer of this key industrial product, according to IMIDRO.

Based in Paris, Vallourec S.A. is a global provider of solutions to energy industries and the industrial sector.

Karbasian also met with the representatives of the Brussels-based KBC Bank.

According to IMIDRO, the bank agreed to provide Iran’s mining development projects with finance worth €50 million.