Economy, Domestic Economy

$1b Mining Investment

$1b Mining Investment$1b Mining Investment

Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, the country’s largest state-owned mining holding company published a report on Sunday outlining the company’s achievements in the past two Iranian years (March 2014-16) and the domestic mining sector’s development roadmap for the current year.

IMIDRO, first established in 2002, was at the forefront of the mining industries developments following the removal of sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear energy program. The giant holding company has been pushing ahead with the governmental agenda to develop the mining sector to find a reliable alternative to oil revenues.

Iran is blessed with an abundance of underground riches, as it is home to various world-class mines holding minerals as common as iron ore to rare metals such as gold and turquoise.

The country possesses over 68 types of 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.

According to the United States Geological Survey, Iran holds the world’s largest zinc, ninth largest copper, 10th largest uranium and 12th largest iron ore reserves.

IMIDRO targeted the mining sector’s primary shortcomings during the two-year period, namely mineral exploration and mineral processing.

According to Mehdi Karbasian, the IMIDRO chief, Iran is currently the world’s 15th mineral-rich country, holding more than 7% of the global mineral reserves worth over $700 billion. He believes that the country could easily rank among the world’s top 10, as only about one-seventh of its area has been explored over the past few years.

Mineral processing has also been described as one of the major deficiencies in Iran’s mining sector. Lack of modern processing technologies has forced many miners to export minerals in unprocessed form and forego the high potential value-added.

IMIDRO, with its significant reach in Iran’s mining sector has been the patron of nearly every mining development programs undertaken in Iran. Most of the country’s major mining companies are in fact subsidiaries of IMIDRO. Some of the most notable names include Iran Minerals Production and Supply Company, National Iranian Steel Company, AscoTec Group, Ehdas-e San’at Company, National Iranian Copper Industries Company, Central Alborz Coal Company, Zarshouran Gold Company, Iran Mineral Processing Research Center, Iran Mineral Insurance Company, South Aluminum Company, IRASCO S.R.L and Iran International Engineering Company.

 Mining Projects

According to the report, IMIDRO invested over $1 billion in mining sector projects in the past two years.

Projects undertaken in March 2014-15 include establishment of Zarshouran Gold Mine with an initial investment of $47.6 million; the Cerro Azul Cement Factory in Venezuela with $315 million; development of Al-Mahdi Aluminum Complex with $45.4 million in addition to five infrastructure development projects (roads and railroads) with $11 million of investment.

During March 2015-16), IMIDRO launched projects such as petroleum coke production pilot program with an investment of $14 million; development of the second phase of Bandar Abbas Port’s mineral and metal transportation wharf with $40 million; establishment of Khur Potassium production plant with $51.2 million; construction of Zarand Coke Manufacturing Company with $107 million; setting up of two beneficiation plants at Sarcheshmeh and Sungun copper mines with $365 million as well as eight infrastructure projects with $18.1 million.

  Mineral Explorations

IMIDRO undertook an operation in December 2013 to explore more than 250,000 square kilometers of the country’s area over a course of three years.

According to the report, the program started by covering the promising Sangan Mineral Zone located in Khorasan Razavi Province. The program later moved on to Sistan-Baluchestan, South Khorasan, Kerman, Yazd and Isfahan provinces, and eventually the western regions of the country, including Kurdestan, Zanjan and West Azarbaijan provinces.

According to Karbasian, over 400 million tons of iron ore, 500 million tons of coal and 90 tons of gold deposits have been discovered since explorations started.

Other discoveries during the period include reserves of copper, antimony, zinc, lead, chromite, titanium, nickel, molybdenum, barite, phosphate and bauxite.

Karbasian said in June that over 300 potential mineral zones have been discovered so far in Khorasan Razavi, Sistan-Baluchestan, South Khorasan, Yazd, Kerman and Ardebil provinces.

IMIDRO plans to hand over some of the zones to potential investors and put the rest out to tender.

The report indicates that IMIDRO and its subsidiaries have invested $37.7 million in exploration projects.

IMIDRO also cooperated with German and Canadian companies in carrying out mineral exploration projects in Sistan-Baluchestan and South Khorasan provinces in search of new chromite reserves at one-third of the project’s previous cost, thanks to using modern exploration technologies.

“Using satellite technology, foreign companies successfully explored deposits located 10,000 meters underground. This is while Iranian operations had previously managed to reach a mere depth of 500 meters,” Karbasian said.

According to the report, IMIDRO intends to focus on further exploration of Zarshouran Gold Mine and Sangan region’s reserves, and conduct extensive exploration for bauxite and rare earth reserves.

  Current Year’s Projects

The report also outlined a list of mineral projects undertaken solely by IMIDRO that are either already operational or will be operational by the end of the current year.

The projects include Kahnouj Titanium Mine’s pilot project valued at $3.3 million; Sefidabeh Antimony Complex valued at $1.3 million; Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari, Shadegan, Mianeh, Neyriz and Sabzevar DRI plants each valued at $120 million; Savadkouh Coal Washing Plant valued at $14 million; Nepheline Syenite project’s infrastructure development valued at $6.8 million; three infrastructural projects at Parsian Special Energy Zone valued at $7.8 million; six infrastructural projects at Lamerd Special Energy Zone valued at $9.5 million and 12 transportation and power generation projects for various mines valued at $36.5 million.

Furthermore, IMIDRO’s mineral projects established and nearly finalized through cooperation with the private sector Sangan region’s pelletizing plant valued at $250 million in collaboration with Mobarakeh Steel Company; development of the second phase of Parvardeh 4 coal zone valued at $19.7 million by Saman Faraz Company; Sangan region’s iron ore concentrate plant valued at $130 million by Tose’e Melli Investment Group; Jalalabad’s iron ore beneficiation plant valued at $20 million, and Oxin Steel Company’s 225-megawatt power plant valued at $90 million.

The establishment of eight other mineral projects is due to start in the current year. These projects include development of the second phase of Zarshouran Gold Mine valued at $36.1 million; establishment of Kahnouj Titanium Mine’s concentrate and slag production plants valued at $162 million; development of Kordabad Coal Mine valued at $46.7 million; construction of Jajrom Aluminum Plant valued at $42.9 million; setting up of South Aluminum Company’s power plant valued at $500 million, and development of Mahdiabad Lead, Zinc and Barite Mine valued at $920 million.