EghtesadOnline: The Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization has implemented 165 major projects worth about $20 billion in Iran’s mining and mineral industries since its formation in 2002, says IMIDRO Chairman Khodadad Gharibpour.
According to the senior official, the state-owned holding has given a remarkable boost to mining investments over the past two years.
“Thirty-eight mining projects worth $4.8 billion were carried out only during the last two fiscal years [March 2018-20],” he was quoted as saying by the news portal of the organization.
“The two-year figures constitute 24.1% of IMIDRO’s projects [in number] and 23% of its total investments [volume in dollar terms],” he added.
A total of 470 million tons of minerals were extracted in Iran in the last fiscal year [ended March 19, 2020], according to the former industries minister, Reza Rahmani.
Metals will account for 35% of this year's projected figure, he told Mizan Online.
210% Rise in Explorations
According to IMIDRO Spokesman Mohammad Sepehr, 310,000 square kilometers of explorations were carried out last year, which indicates a 210% rise compared to the year before.
In addition, 4,790 direct jobs were created in the mining sector during the period, up by 30% year-on-year.
This is while, Sepehr added, the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the inauguration of several projects.
According to Gharibpour, Iran has the largest area under mineral exploration in the Middle East.
The Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization has been tasked with exploring 652,061 square kilometers for minerals in 30 Iranian provinces, says IMIDRO official, Mohammad Aqajanlou.
IMIDRO carried out exploration over 270,000 square kilometers during President Hassan Rouhani's first term in office (August 2013-17).
About 65% of Iran’s total explorable mineral areas (1 million kilometers) belong to the organization.
Manager of exploration at IMIDRO, Ali Asgharzadeh, says the highest volume of explorations in Iran pertains to copper, iron ore and coal.
Gharibpour says most mining explorations in Iran have been carried out at shallow depths, while excavating deeper would lead to a twofold increase in the discovery of mineral reserves.
60% Growth in Sales
An IMIDRO report on the sales of 72 heavyweight Tehran Stock Exchange-listed mining and mineral industries companies shows they sold a total of 1.56 quadrillion rials ($7.39 billion) in the fiscal year that ended on March 19 to register a 60% rise compared with last year's corresponding period.
Mobarakeh Steel Company registered the highest sales volume among the firms during the year under review with 391.43 trillion rials ($1.85 billion), up 67% year-on-year.
MSC is the biggest steelmaker in Iran and the Middle East and North Africa region, accounting for about half of the country's steel production.
MSC was followed by the Iranian National Copper Industries Company with 227 trillion rials ($1.07 billion) of sales during the period, up by 125% YOY.
NICICO is a leading copper producer in the Middle East and North Africa region and its mines hold close to 14% of Asia’s copper deposits and about 3% of global reserves.
Khuzestan Steel Company came third, as its sales totaled 158.4 trillion rials ($750 million) in 12 months, up 40% YOY.
The steelmaker, located in the southwestern Khuzestan Province, is the biggest exporter of steel in Iran, shipping products to over a dozen countries. About half of KSC's exports go to the MENA region. Its other major export destinations are located in the Far East and the Americas.
Fiscal 2020-21 Agenda
According to Gharibpour, the holding has increased its research and development budget from 170 billion rials ($800,000) in the last fiscal year (March 2019-20) to 230 billion rials ($1 million) this year (March 2020-21).
He says 31 mineral projects worth $2.27 billion will come on stream in the current Iranian year (to end March 20, 2021).
“The projects will create 4,113 direct and 23,280 indirect jobs. More than $1 billion worth of the projects will be inaugurated by the private sector with IMIDRO’s support,” he said.
These projects include the establishment of South Kaveh’s freshwater production unit (55,000 cubic meters per day), South Kaveh’s billet production unit (1.2 million tons per year) and Zarand Steel Production Unit (1.7 million tons per year).
IMIDRO has eight major companies and 55 subsidiaries involved in the steel, aluminum, copper, cement and mineral sectors.
Iran is home to 68 types of minerals with more than 37 billion tons of proven reserves and 57 billion tons of potential reserves.
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 is home to more than 7% of global mineral reserves.
“Iran’s mineral reserves currently stand at 50 billion tons,” said deputy minister of industries, mining and trade, Daryoush Esmaeili, adding that new explorations are expected to increase the figure by 20% to 60 billion tons by the end of the current year (March 2021).