By Ebrahim Fallahi

Iran’s plans for promoting mining sector bearing fruit

July 5, 2021 - 12:50

TEHRAN - Having 68 different types of minerals, including the world’s largest copper, zinc and iron reserves, Iran is one of the top 10 mineral-rich countries across the globe. In this regard, the Iranian government has been seriously pursuing several programs for promoting the mining sector as a major contributor to the country’s economic growth.

Iran's proven iron ore reserves are 2.7 billion tons (about 0.8 of the world's total reserves), while the country’s copper reserves are 2.6 billion tons (about 0.4 of the world's reserves). The country also has 11 million tons of zinc reserves (about four percent of the world’s total reserves).

The total proven reserves of Iran's mines are estimated at about 60 billion tons, which is expected to reach more than 100 billion tons with the implementation of the Industry, Mining, and Trade Ministry’s exploration programs over 500,000 square kilometers of new mineral zones.

Despite the country’s huge potential in this area, due to some issues like the lack of necessary machinery and equipment and the lack of access to financial resources and foreign investment because of the U.S. sanctions, the Iranian mining sector has been struggling to operate at its maximum capacity over the past few years.

So, the government programs for promoting this industry are mainly focused on relying on domestic sources for helping the mining sector overcome its current problems and hit its ideal targets.

In this regard, creating a database on the status of the country’s mines has been one of the primary programs that the Industry, Mining, and Trade Ministry started in collaboration with the Statistical Center of Iran (SCI) in order to have a comprehensive picture of the activities of the mining industry.

The program started in March and wrapped on May 21, aimed to collect detailed data on the activity status of the country’s mines and the reasons why some mines have become idle; so that the collected data could be used to assess the mining sector’s condition and to take necessary measures for helping the idle mines get back on track or to boost the production of the already active mines.

Based on the data collected in this program, the SCI announced that there are currently 10,170 mines across the country, of which 6,861 are active and 3,309 mines are not operational.

Of the country’s active mines, 6,449 are solely producing minerals, while 289 mines are conducting exploration operations along with their production activities, and 123 mines are being exploited, equipped, and prepared at the same time.

The findings of this program confirmed that out of 3,309 inactive mines in the country, 298 mines were being equipped and prepared, 60 mines were operating less than 30 days, 513 mines permanently stopped operating, 208 mines were temporarily closed and 430 mines were categorized as “not active for other reasons”.

In investigating the causes of inactivity of the country's mines, lack of liquidity, lack of access to machinery and equipment, blockage, market stagnation, lack of licenses, as well as legal and environmental problems were stated as the most common reasons for the mines going idle.

The collected data in the mentioned program is going to be used by the Industry, Mining and Trade Ministry and the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) for exploring ways for better support the country’s mining sector in the current Iranian calendar year (started on March 21) by removing the barriers in the way of the activities of the idle mine.

Last year, 253 idle small-scale mines were revived throughout the country, according to IMIDRO Head Vajihollah Jafari, and this year the organization, which is in charge of managing and promoting the country’s mining sector, is planning to pursue its development programs more vigorously.

The official noted that the plan for reviving idle mines in the previous year was realized by 126 percent.

Jafari also announced that under the framework of the program for reviving idle mines, 200 mines are planned to be put back into operation in the current year.

A glance at the steps taken in this regard shows that the Iranian government’s plans are paying off and the mining sector is expected to become a more dynamic player in the country’s economic scene in the current Iranian calendar year.

EF/MA

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