Mining in Iran: Wikis


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Industry and Mining from U.S. Central Intelligence Agency map of Iran 1978.

Mining in Iran is under-developed. Yet the country is one of the most important mineral producers in the world, ranked among 15 major mineral rich countries[1], holding some 68 types of minerals, 37 billion tons of proven reserves and more than 57 billion tons of potential reservoirs.[2] Mineral production contributes only 0.6 per cent to the country’s GDP. Add other mining-related industries and this figure increases to just four per cent (2005). Many factors have contributed to this, namely lack of suitable infrastructure, legal barriers, exploration difficulties, and government control over all resources.

The most important mines in Iran include coal, metallic minerals, sand and gravel, chemical minerals and salt. Khorasan has the most operating mines in Iran. Other large deposits which mostly remain underdeveloped are zinc (world's largest), copper (world's second largest), iron (world's ninth largest), Uranium (world's tenth largest) and lead (world's eleventh largest).[3][4][5][6]



Close to 30 percent of the country’s investment has been made in the mining field in recent years. 45 percent of the stock market's capitalization is in the mineral industries.[7] The sector also accounts for 3% percent of the country’s exports. In 2008 the share of the mining sector and mineral industries increased to over five percent in GDP, providing 3 percent of the country’s employment.[7] In the first quarter of 2009-2010, Iran exported close to 5.6 million tons of mineral products worth over $1.2 billion.[8] Every year, the iron ore price is determined by the government after negotiations between iron ore and steel producers. In 2008, the average price of iron ore was set at $56 per tonne.

In 2005, of 3125 operating mines, 2747 and 378 mines were run by private and public sectors respectively.[9] There are 5,019 mines which are active, inactive or in the state of being equipped and the rate of extraction from these mines stood at 217.5 million tons last year. More than 96,000 people are presently engaged in the mines sector (2008). The number of operating mining units stands at 17,000.[2] National Iranian mining company is the world's 23rd largest mining company with 0.6% of the world's total mining production.[10]

Exploration projects implemented by the National Geology and Mineral Exploration Organization in the past three years are six times higher than the figure for the same period during the previous government.[11] Since 2005, mortality rate in mining mishaps has declined to one death for every 10 million tons of mining production from the previous figure of six million tons.[12]


Although the petroleum industry provides the majority of economic revenues, about 75 percent of all mining sector employees work in mines producing minerals other than oil and natural gas. These include coal, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromium[13],barite (world's sixth largest producer[14]), salt, gypsum, molybdenum, strontium[15], silica, uranium, and gold (most as a coproduct of the Sar Cheshmeh copper complex operations). The mines at Sar Cheshmeh in Kerman Province contain the world's second largest lode of copper ore (5% of the world's total). Some 128,500 tons were extracted in 2000–2001. Large iron ore deposits lie in central Iran, near Bafq, Yazd, and Kerman.

Iran produces orpiment and realgar arsenic concentrates, silver, asbestos, borax, hydraulic cement, clays (bentonite, industrial, and kaolin), diatomite, feldspar, fluorspar, turquoise, industrial or glass sand (quartzite and silica), lime, magnesite, nitrogen (of ammonia and urea), perlite, natural ocher and iron oxide mineral pigments, pumice and related volcanic materials, caustic soda, stones and decorative stones (including granite, marble, travertine, dolomite, and limestone)[16], celestite, natural sulfates (aluminum potassium sulfate and sodium sulfate), Amber, Tungsten, Agate, lapislazuli[17] and talc. Iran also produces ferromanganese, ferromolybdenum, nepheline syenite, Demantoids[18], phosphate rock, selenium, shell, Andalusite, Rockwool, garnet[19], gabbro, diorite, vermiculite, attapulgite[20], Calcium, Barium, Rare earth elements, Scandium, yttrium[21][22] and zeolite, and had the capacity to mine onyx[23].

Mineral extraction

In 2009 Iran will produce:

Iron ore: 25.5 million tons of iron ore,[24][25] - Alternatively, U.S. Geological Survey ranked Iran, the 8th largest producer of iron ore in 2009 with 33 million tons of output.[26]

Coke: 1.7 million tons of coke concentrate.[27]

Alumina: and 230,000 tons of alumina.[28]

Coal: Iran has recoverable coal reserves of nearly 1.9bn short tonnes. By mid-2008, the country produced about 1.3m short tonnes of coal annually and consumed about 1.5m short tonnes, making it a small net importer of coal.[29] Iran plans to increase hard-coal production to 5 million tons in 2012 from 2 million tons in November 2008.[30]

Metal production

Steel: Main steel mills are located in Esfahan and Khuzestan. Steel is produced in Mobarakeh Steel Mill, Isfahan Foundry, Khuzestan Steel Company (with new capacity of 80,000 tons),[2] Azerbaijan Steel Company, Iran Steel Alloy Company, Iran National Steel Industries Group, Ahvaz Pipe and Rolling Company and Khorasan Steel Company.[31] [32] Steel production capacity will reach 17 million tons from 10 million tons in 2009 after the private and state projects come on stream, and 40 million tons in 2012.[25].

Iran became self-sufficient in steel production in 2009.[33] In 2008 Iran produced 7.5 million tons of direct reduced iron (DRI). It produces 13 percent of global DRI production and 41 percent of total Middle East DRI production.[2] According to IMIDRO, in 2009 raw steel production in Mobarakeh Steel Company made up 47 percent of total output, Khuzestan Steel Company 23 percent, Esfahan Steel Company 20 percent and National Iranian Steel Company 10 percent.[34] In addition, these projects have resulted in industrial decentralization, development of underprivileged regions, increase in GNP and promotion of industrial infrastructure.[35] Iran is the world's 16th steel producer.[36]

Aluminum: Aluminum production are projected to hit 245,000 tons by March 2009 (457,000 tons in 2010).[25][24]The largest plants for aluminum production in Iran are Iralco, Almahdi, and the newly built Hormozal aluminum smelter plant in Bandar Abbas. The Hormozal plant with an annual production capacity of 147,000 tonnes is a joint venture between Iran and Italy.[37]

Copper: In 2009 Iran will produce 383,000 tons of copper.[24][25]

Gold: Based on a short-term program (2008), gold production will reach five tons per year. Under the long-term plan, the figure will rise to 25 tons per annum. Meydouk in Shahr-e Babak (Kerman province), Khorapeh in Piranshahr (West Azarbaijan), Nabijan in Kalaybar and Alikh in Jolfa (both in East Azarbaijan province), Logheh (Zanjan province) and Qolqoleh (Kurdestan province) as the gold-rich regions. Saqqez and Piranshahr in the west as well as Maherabad and Sheikhabad in east are also main gold-rich regions of Iran.[38]

Foreign Investments

The government owns 90 per cent of all mines and related large industries in Iran and is seeking foreign investment for the development of the mining sector. In the steel and copper sectors alone, the government is seeking to raise around US$1.1 billion in foreign financing.

In the early 1990s the buy-back method of transaction (the government buys back the industrial project after the foreign direct investor has recouped his initial investment in the project plus a predefined profit) was introduced to bypass constitutional constraints on foreign investment and avoid potential political difficulties within the country. The scheme has government support for being an efficient means of attracting foreign capital, services and technical expertise, while reducing foreign exchange expenditures and expanding exports. If the Iranian Government is to fulfil its 20-year plan to improve the country’s mining sector, it’s estimated that US$20 billion, mostly in foreign investment, will be required.

  • Projects eligible for buy-back agreements and foreign loan facilities are:
Projects that complete aluminium metal production lines
Projects that mobilise coal, iron ore, steel, copper and pigment metals production
Ferro alloys projects and gold production
  • Iran imports the following equipment to support its mining sector:
Mining equipment such as drills, loaders and shovels
Support equipment such as bulldozers, graders, trucks and auxiliaries
Utility equipment such as compressed air plant equipment, water and waste-water treatment equipment
Mechanical equipment including equipment for crude ore handling, grinding, separation and treatment purposes
Laboratory and workshop equipment
Power supply and distribution equipment
Process control instruments

Most of the electrical distribution equipment for water supply and treatment utilities, along with steelworks and storage facilities are manufactured locally. There is a demand for high quality second-hand machinery in Iran. To date, doing business in Iran has had political overtones[citation needed]. In this regard, countries which can maintain a neutral and impartial political image in the Middle East are advantaged.

Production Statistics

The following is a list of some of Iran's industrial mining production and their international rankings:

Name Rank Out of Source Notes Year
Steel production by country 20th World World Steel Association/US Geological Survey More than 10 million tonnes/Year 2008
Aluminium Oxide production 26th World British Geological Survey 130,000 tonnes/Year 2006
Bauxite production 10th World US Geological Survey Annual production of 500,000 tonnes 2008
Copper mine production 12th World British Geological Survey Annual production of 249,100 tonnes 2006
Aluminium production 17th World List of countries by aluminium production Annual production of 457,000 tonnes 2006
Cement production 14th World List of countries by cement production/Pie Chart of World's Production Annual production of 32 million tonnes, or ~1.4% of the world's total output[39] 2005
Iron production 12th World US Geological Survey Annual production of 20 million tonnes 2006
Manganese production 12th World British Geological Survey Annual production of 115,000 tonnes 2006
Strontium production 5th World British Geological Survey World's fifth largest producer of strontium 2007
Zinc production 14th World US Geological Survey Annual production of 166,000 tonnes 2006
Chromium production 5th World US Geological Survey Iran produces more than 4% of world's total production 2002
Feldspar production 12th World British Geological Survey Annual production of 411,807 tonnes 2006
Bentonite production 12th World British Geological Survey Annual production of 186,323 tonnes; Alternatively ranked at 13th by US Geological Survey with production of 200,000 tonnes[40] 2006
Molybdenum production 9th World British Geological Survey Annual production of 2,000 tonnes[41] 2005
Sodium Chloride Production 15th World British Geological Survey Annual production of 2.62 million tonnes, or ~1.25% of world's total output 2006
Baryte production 6th World Baryte Production Rankings Iran produces 290,000 tonnes or ~3.67% of world's total output 2006
Gypsum production 2nd World British Geological Survey Iran is the world's second largest producer after China 2006
Iron ore production 9th World British Geological Survey Annual production of 35 million tonnes 2006
Perlite production 10th World British Geological Survey Annual production of 30,000 tonnes of perlite 2006
Silver production 19th World The Silver Institute Annual production of 3.2 millions of ounces 2008
Turquoise production 1st World Wise Geek/Beading Hut Iran is the world's oldest, finest and largest producer of turquoise 2010
Production of Soda Ash 20th World US Geological Survey Annual production of 140,000 tonnes 2006
Production of quicklime, hydrated lime including Dead-Burned Dolomite 13th World US Geological Survey Annual production of 2.5 million tonnes 2006
Production of natural iron oxide 9th World US Geological Survey Annual production of 2,600 tonnes 2006
Production of mica 9th World US Geological Survey Annual mica production of 7,000 tonnes 2006
Production of magnesite 13th World US Geological Survey Annual magnesite production of 90,000 tonnes 2006
Production of lead 16th World US Geological Survey Annual lead production of 24,000 tonnes 2006
Production of kaolin 12th World US Geological Survey Annual kaolin production of 550,000 tonnes 2006
Industrial silica production 14th World US Geological Survey Annual industrial silica production of 1.9 million tonnes 2006
Production of hydraulic cement 14th World US Geological Survey Annual hydraulic cement production of 32.7 million tonnes 2006
Production of gold 66th World British Geological Survey Iran produces 850 Kilograms of gold per year 2008
Production of ferrochromium 14th World US Geological Survey Annual ferrochromium production of 8,000 tonnes 2006
Diatomite production 20th World US Geological Survey Annual diatomite production of 8,000 tonnes 2006
Production of celestite 6th World US Geological Survey Annual celestite production of 7,500 tonnes 2006
Boron production 9th World US Geological Survey Annual boron production of 3,000 tonnes 2006
Asbestos production 9th World US Geological Survey Annual asbestos production of 5,000 tonnes 2006
Production of arsenic 11th World US Geological Survey Annual arsenic production of 100 tonnes 2006
Production of ammonia 21st World US Geological Survey Annual ammonia production of 1.02 million tonnes 2006

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d
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  7. ^ a b Iran daily: Iran Top Mineral Producer Retrieved June 21, 2009
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  9. ^ Supreme Audit Court - Official Website
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  24. ^ a b c IRNA:Iran: $30 Billion Dollar to be invested in industry Retrieved November 15, 2008
  25. ^ a b c d Iran Plans to Produce 250,000 Tons of Copper in Year to March retrieved November 28, 2008
  26. ^
  27. ^
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  29. ^ "Market Profile for Iran", Energy and Electricity Forecast, Economist Intelligence Unit, 18 June 2008 
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  32. ^ Iran Daily: Steel Output up Retrieved June 20, 2009
  33. ^ Iran daily: Steel Self-sufficiency Retrieved June 20, 2009
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External links



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