Economy, Business And Markets

Gov’t Pushing for Efficient Mine Exploration

Gov’t Pushing for Efficient Mine ExplorationGov’t Pushing for Efficient Mine Exploration

The minister of industry, mine, and trade, Mohammad-Reza Nematzadeh has strongly criticized the current state of mine exploration across the country, describing it as “wasting the country’s resources,” in an interview with Eghtesadnews on Wednesday.

The minister’s criticism comes as the mining sector is in recession 18 months after President Hassan Rouhani took office. The latest statistics provided by the Central Bank of Iran reveal that during the first six months of the current Iranian year (March 21-September 22, 2014), the mining sector registered a 10.5% growth, showing a 2.5-fold increase in gross domestic production (GDP). The mining sector had constituted less than 1% of the GDP during the past decade. Despite the recent improvement, the administration is doing its best to triple the share of the mining sector in GDP, aiming at bringing the sector out of the current recession.

“One of the unwise policies pursued by the government in the past decades was that it neither carried out the exploration operations nor did it allow the private sector or foreign companies to perform the costly operations,” the minister said.

He also told Eghtesadnews that the Geological Survey of Iran demanded a certain budget to conduct aerial survey operations, but noted that “it would take as much as 50 years to finish the exploration operations with the tight budgets allocated for this purpose”.

Nematzadeh went on to say that the current regulations allow any Iranian or foreign private company to take part in the bids and start exploration operations. He referred to the deal between the Iranian Mines & Mining Industries Development & Renovation (IMIDRO) and the Geological Survey of Iran (according to which some 200,000 square kilometers of the country will be aerially surveyed) and the data offered to the private sector companies to help them carry out their explorations more efficiently.

“Out of the 1,648,000 square kilometers of the country’s area, only 7% has been explored and the minerals extracted. The figure includes the oil-rich southern regions near the Persian Gulf,” the minister remarked.

Another challenge, according to the minster has been that while many people were granted permits to extract mines, many had not yet started exploration operations for various reasons.

“During the past year, the ministry has annulled dozens of such permits and announced bids to find new investors who can actually start extraction operations,” said Nematzadeh. The minister also acknowledged that some of the mine exploration activities were discontinued when loans and incentives promised by government failed to materialize. He expressed hope that these mine owners will be granted the loans soon so that they can resume their work.