EghtesadOnline: Iran exported an aggregate of 8.5 million tons of mineral products worth $1.4 billion to Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan during the first eight months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Nov. 21, 2019).
A recent report released by the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization shows the combined average monthly exports to these destinations stood at 1.06 million tons worth $185 million, Financial Tribune reported.
Exports to Iraq stood at 5.71 million tons worth $798 million.
Iran exported 512,000 tons worth $393 million to Turkey.
And Afghanistan imported 2.27 million tons worth $291 million during the period under review.
50b Tons of Proven Reserves
Iran has around 50 billion tons of proven mineral reserves, according to Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Reza Rahmani.
"Discoveries carried out over the past few years have led to a significant increase in Iran’s proven mineral reserves, which include at least 60 types of minerals," the minister was recently quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
Rahmani said the discoveries showed that Iran’s mineral riches were much higher than previously thought, adding that the country has yet to tap into its vast reserves deep underground.
He added that most of the newly-discovered mines contain rich resources of copper, which are mostly concentrated in southeast and northwest Iran.
According to Alireza Shahidi, the head of Geological Survey and Mineral Exploration of Iran, 450 million tons of minerals were extracted in Iran during the last fiscal year (ended March 20, 2019) to register a 10% year-on-year rise.
Mineral exports, he said, amounted to 5.7 million tons worth $9.2 billion last year.
The value of Iran’s mineral production will reach $22 billion by the end of the current fiscal year (March 19, 2020), according to former deputy industries minister, Jafar Sarqeini.
The country produced $20 billion worth of mineral products in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2019).
Largest Area Under Exploration in Mideast
Iran has the largest area under mineral exploration in the Middle East, according to Deputy Industries Minister Khodadad Gharibpour.
The Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation, the biggest state-owned mining holding of Iran, plans to cover 300,000 square kilometers of the country's explorable land for mineral explorations by the end of the current fiscal year.
IMIDRO carried out exploration over 270,000 square kilometers during President Hassan Rouhani's first term in office (August 2013-17).
According to Gharibpour, who is also the president of IMIDRO, 65% of Iran’s total explorable mineral areas (1 million kilometers) belong to the organization.
He noted that IMIDRO is expected to have invested $3.9 billion in Iran's mining sector by the end of the current year, adding that 10,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created.
“This is while $2.1 billion worth of projects were implemented by IMIDRO in the last Iranian year [March 2018-19],” he said.
Ali Asgharzadeh, IMIDRO’s exploration manager, says the highest volume of explorations in Iran pertains to copper, iron ore and coal.
Gharibpour said half of Iran’s 600,000 square kilometers has undergone mineral exploration. However, he added that most mining explorations in Iran have been carried out at shallow depths, while deeper excavations would lead to a twofold increase in the discovery of mineral reserves.
According to Sarqeini, Iran aims to produce 550 million tons of minerals in the current fiscal year (to end March 19, 2020).
According to the United States Geological Survey, Iran holds the world's largest zinc, ninth largest copper, 10th largest iron ore, fifth largest gypsum and barite, and 10th largest uranium reserves.
Overall, Iran possesses more than 7% of global mineral reserves.
According to the Persian economic daily Donya-e-Eqtesad, Iran is home to nearly 10,000 mines, only 6,000 of which are active. The country’s mineral reserves stand at 60 billion tons, close to 40 billion tons of which are proven.
IMIDRO carried out 102,000 meters of mineral excavations related to iron ore, coal, bauxite, rare-earth elements, gold and copper during the last Iranian year.
IMIDRO carried out mineral explorations over an area of 270,000 square kilometers from the fiscal 2014-15 up to the end of the fiscal 2018-19. The organization plans to explore 300,000-310,000 square kilometers by the end of the current fiscal year.