EghtesadOnline: The area under mineral explorations in Iran expanded by 30,000 square meters during the first four months of the current Iranian year (March 20-July 21), according to the Geological Survey and Mineral Explorations of Iran.
The explorations registered a 15% growth compared with the same period of last year, IRNA quoted the head of GSI, Alireza Shahidi, as saying.
Shahidi said plans are high on the agenda to carry out explorations over 115,000 square kilometers by the end of the current fiscal year (March 20, 2021).
Expanding the horizons of explorations is propelled by large-scale investments by Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) in the past several years.
Ali Asgharzadeh, IMIDRO’s exploration manager, says the organization’s total investment in mineral excavations has reached 600 billion rials ($2.73 million) since President Hassan Rouhani began his first tenure in August 2013.
Iran is said to have the largest area under mineral exploration in the Middle East.
“The size of IMIDRO’s explorable mineral areas has so far reached a total of 688,000 square kilometers in 104 areas in 30 provinces, over half of which has been undertaken in the past two years,” he said.
Of the whole area, operations for the detection and quantification of minerals are carried out across 455,000 square kilometers, with another 146,000 square meters still undergoing exploration.
The IMIDRO chief noted that explorations over 66,000 square kilometers have been outsourced to the private sector.
“Exploration and mining in general cannot begin until mining firms are certified by the Industries Ministry. So far, 110 mineral exploration certificates have been issued,” he said.
“The issued permits cover the excavation of lead, zinc, gold, copper, iron ore, coal and salt, on which work has begun gradually.”
According to Asgharzadeh, the highest volume of explorations in Iran pertains to copper, iron ore and coal.
According to Deputy Industries Minister Khodadad Gharibpour, who is also the president of IMIDRO, 65% of Iran’s total explorable mineral areas (1 million kilometers) belong to the organization, which is the biggest state-owned mining holding of Iran.
Gharibpour said most mining explorations in Iran have been carried out at shallow depths, while deeper excavation would lead to a twofold increase in the discovery of mineral reserves.
Iran is home to 68 types of minerals with more than 37 billion tons of proven reserves and 57 billion tons of potential reserves.
The country has 55 billion tons of mineral reserves, about 33 billion tons of which are proven.
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.
Deputy Industries Minister Daryoush Esmaieli recently said Iran’s mineral reserves currently stand at 50 billion tons, adding that new explorations are expected to increase the figure by 20% to 60 billion tons by the end of the current fiscal year (March 2021).
The mines and mineral industries had a 25% share in Iran’s total non-oil exports last year, he was quoted as saying by IRIB News Agency.
Fiscal 2019-20 Mining Investments Rise 60%
About $3.2 billion were invested in Iran’s mining and mineral industries during the last fiscal year that ended on March 19 to register a 60% rise compared to the year before, says the spokesman of Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization.
Mohammad Sepehr added that the Covid-19 outbreak postponed the inauguration of several projects, IRNA reported.
Gharibpour said 31 mineral projects worth $2.27 billion will come on stream in the current fiscal year.
The projects will create 4,113 direct as well as 23,280 indirect jobs, he added.
More than $1 billion worth of the projects will be inaugurated by the private sector with IMIDRO’s support, he told IRNA.
State-owned Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, taking its subsidiaries into account, has a 30% share in the country’s mineral extraction.
As IRNA reported, construction materials account for 60-65% of Iran’s mineral extractions.
TSE-Listed Mining Firms Sales in Fiscal 2019-20
IMIDRO recently released a new report on the sales of 72 heavyweight Tehran Stock Exchange-listed mining and mineral industries companies.
According to the report, the aggregate sales volume of the firms under review stood at 1.56 quadrillion rials ($9.6 billion) in the last fiscal year that ended on March 19, 2020, to register a 60% rise compared with last year's corresponding period.
Their sales volume during the 12th month of the year (Feb. 20-March 19) stood at 149.66 trillion rials ($920 million) to register a 0.36% decline compared to the previous month and a 21% rise compared with last year's similar month.
Mobarakeh Steel Company registered the highest sales volume among the firms during the year, with 391.43 trillion rials ($2.4 billion), up 67% year-on-year. The company’s sales during the 12th month of the year stood at 25.49 trillion rials ($156.8 million), indicating a 3% YOY and 33% month-on-month decrease.
MSC is the biggest steelmaker in Iran and the Middle East & North Africa region, accounting for about half of the country's steel production.
Its steel production capacity stands at 10.2 million tons per year, while its actual production is 8.7 million tons annually. The mill’s steel sheet production stands at 7.3 million tons per year.
“We expect new demand in the future, which require higher quality, more solid, anti-corrosive, lighter and more affordable steel products,” MSC's Managing Director Hamid Reza Azimian said.
Notably, MSC plans to establish a second hot rolling mill, which is expected to render the country self-sufficient in steel sheet production.
According to Azimian, MSC’s Hot Rolling Mill No. 2 will have a production capacity of 4.5 million tons of HRC per year.
“We have reached an agreement with a foreign company. The project requires €260 million worth of investment, 54% of which (or €140.4 million) will be provided domestically while the remaining 46% will be funded by the foreign side,” he said.
The MSC chief made the statement to Financial Tribune on the sidelines of the 10th edition of Iranian Steel & Iron Ore Market Conference & Expo, also known as 'ISMC 2020', held on January 21-22 at IRIB International Conference Center in Tehran.
According to Azimian, the project will create 1,000 direct jobs at MSC and 8,000 indirect jobs once it becomes operational.
It will completely meet Iranian industries’ demand for different types of steel sheets of various sizes and qualities, he added.
As per the agreement with the foreign contractor, the project will take 900 days before it becomes operational.