EghtesadOnline: The first phase of a project to supply water from the Persian Gulf to Kerman Province went on stream on Thursday, head of the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company of Iran (Abfa) said.
"Costing $815 million, the 305-km pipeline will annually transfer 180 million cubic meters of desalinated water from the Bandar Abbas desalination plant in southern Hormozgan Province to Gol-Gohar Mining and Industrial Complex in Sirjan, Kerman Province," Qasem Taqizadeh Khamesi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The phase includes a desalination unit (in Bandar Abbas), seven pumping stations, 33 water storage tanks, 10 power substations and a 150 kilovolt power transmission line from Hormozgan to Kerman.
“Work on the project started in 2016 by the Persian Gulf Water Supply and Transmission Company.”
The second phase, which will carry water from Sirjan to Sarcheshmeh Copper Mine in Rafsanjan County, is 80% complete and is planned to be inaugurated before the fiscal year is out next March, Taqizadeh Khamesi said, and noted that the megaproject will later supply the famous Chadormalu Mining and Industrial Company in Yazd.
Of the total water to be transferred, major industrial plants namely the Gol-Gohar Complex, Sarcheshmeh Copper Mine and Chadormalu Company in Yazd will annually receive 45 mcm, 40 mcm and 30 mcm of water respectively. The rest will be used for drinking in the dry region.
Regarding funding, he added that a consortium of nine Iranian banks namely Melli, Pasian, Tejarat and Sepah invested $55 million in the project.
Close to $360 million was borrowed from the National Development Fund of Iran—the country's sovereign wealth fund— and the Hamburg-based Iranian-European Bank (EIH), affiliated to Iran’s Bank of Industry and Mine.
“The rest ($400 million) was put up by Chadormalu Company, Gol-Gohar Complex and National Iranian Copper Industries Company.”
It is reported that transferring water from the Persian Gulf in the south should help alleviate the water crisis in the two industrial regions that have limited access to underground water resources and suffer from low precipitation.
The province’s drinking water comes from 365 wells, three springs, eight aqueducts and two dams. The desert province, as is the case in most other regions in Iran, has been grappling with drought for years and piling unsurmountable pressure on urban authorities.
“Each year 6 billion cubic meters of water is withdrawn from the drought-stricken province’s aquifers, of which 95%, 2% and 3% are respectively used for farming, industries and households,” Mohammad Javad Fadaei, the provincial governor said.
The plains around Kerman no longer have the capacity for deeper wells to reach groundwater and water transfer is apparently the last best available option.
“With the systemic rise in water consumption, we are facing huge challenges meeting demand.” Climate change and global warming has resulted in rising temperatures across continents and summers in Iran too have become much hotter compared to a quarter century ago.
Water demand in Kerman is 3,000 liters per second while maximum production is 1,850 liters/second.
Although experts consider water transfer schemes to be environmentally hazardous and destructive, using water from the Persian Gulf is the last resort. Many Arab littoral states have long been using water from the waterway at very high cost.
Iran is blessed with an abundance of underground riches, as it is home to various world-class mines holding minerals like iron ore, precious metals such as gold and turquoise.
The country holds 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, 12th largest iron ore and the 10th largest uranium reserves.
Overall, Iran holds more than 7% of global mineral reserves, most of which are in Kerman and Yazd.