Iran is a leading producer of steel in the world. The country’s officials say the metal’s exports continue despite US sanctions, Press TV reported.
The country plans to raise steel production to 55 million tons per year by 2025, of which 20m-25m tons would be allocated to exports.
With its sprawling petroleum industry under a strict sanctions regime, which has cut revenues, the country is beginning to take stock of its other resources, and mining is emerging as a new field which Iran can count on for revenue generation.
The sector holds a key advantage over the oil industry: It is much harder to impose sanctions on because of its immense diversity. From extremely sensitive radioactive materials to such ordinary substances as lime, the sector includes as many as 120 elements.
According to officials, possible gold-bearing zones have been identified in 21 provinces across Iran. The country’s proven gold reserves are currently estimated at 340 metric tons, lying in 24 mines.
However, with extensive prospecting, this figure is thought to rise much higher.
Speaking at a mining forum in Tehran on Wednesday, Dariush Esmaeili, a deputy industry, mine and trade minister, added the country will soon bring online a new phase of gold production including all stages from extraction to processing, production of ingots and sale to the central bank of the country.
“This is the basis for a change in this field,” he noted.
Esmaeili said the number of active mines in the country is estimated to be 5,600.
“This year, 1,000 inactive mines will become operational, meaning about 25 percent of non-active mines will return to production.”
Iran’s gold capacity is put at more than nine million metric tons. The Zarshuran gold complex in Takab, in the northwestern province of West Azarbaijan, is one of the most important mineral prospects, estimated to hold 110 tons of reserves. Aq Darreh, also in Takab, produces 2.2 tons of gold a year.
However, the extractives industry is underdeveloped and mineral products account for only 0.6 percent of the GDP in a country, which holds about seven percent of the world’s proven mineral reserves estimated at 60 billion tons, including 68 types of minerals.
That is because oil has been the primary source of foreign currency for decades which has relegated other industries to the fringes.
Iran’s oil industry is currently on the frontline of the fight against the US which has slapped the sector with the most aggressive sanctions ever, to drive the Islamic Republic’s crude exports down to zero and dry up its revenues.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has broadened the scope of its sanctions on Iran’s steel, aluminum, copper and iron trade, “But exports still continue because consumers need them,” said Mehdi Karbasian, another deputy industry, mine and trade minister last month.
Karbasian noted that there is a great variety of materials in the mining sector, adding that the variety of the materials’ consumers and producers is much greater than that of petroleum products.
At current foreign currency rates against the rial, Iran’s mineral reserves are worth $700 billion; but officials say the real figure is much higher.
Assuming that the value of Iran’s mineral reserves is at least $700 billion, the added value they create would be $4 trillion, Karbasian said.