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Iran plans to attract $29 bn of investment in mineral sector

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows Sungun open pit copper mine in Iran's East Azarbaijan Province.

Iran’s deputy minister of industry, mine and trade says the country has plans to attract USD 29 billion of investment in its mines following the removal of sanctions imposed on Tehran over its civilian nuclear program.

In an interview with Bloomberg, which was published on Tuesday, Mehdi Karbasian noted that Iran boasts the world’s biggest natural gas reserves and is planning various projects to develop its diverse mineral resources and industries ranging from steel to aluminum production, as well as gold and copper prospecting.

“Sanctions imposed on Iran … certainly slowed development in steel [industry] and other fields,” Karbasian, who is also head of the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO), said, adding, “Investment in Iran when sanctions are lifted will be win-win situation.”

On July 14, Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany – finalized the text of an agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in the Austrian capital of Vienna.

File photo shows the Choghart iron mine, near the central Iranian city of Bafq in Yazd Province.

Under the JCPOA, Iran has accepted limitations on its nuclear activities in exchange for the removal of all economic and financial sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Elsewhere in his interview, Karbasian said high-ranking delegations from Germany, France and the Netherlands have visited Iran in the past few weeks, and the country is going to host a two-day seminar on opportunities for investment in Iran's steel industries on Kish Island in September.

“We have held extensive negotiations with them with regard to investments in the steel and mining industries” of Iran, Karbasian said, adding, “We have also had negotiations with representatives of British and Austrian companies.”

According to Karbasian, if necessary investments are made in Iran's steel industry, the country’s steel production will increase from the current figure of 22 million tonnes to 55 million tonnes by 2025.

“The projected [steel production] capacity will help us to raise our steel exports by around 12 million tonnes a year,” the Iranian deputy foreign minister said.

Iran’s Deputy Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mehdi Karbasian (file photo)

According to Karbasian, Iran exported a total of 2.5 million tonnes of steel products to Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Thailand, Spain and Britain last year.

He noted that Iran is currently in talks with Japanese companies, whose names he did not reveal, to encourage them to invest in the Makran steel plant, which will have the capacity to produce 3 million tonnes of steel. The plant will be built in Iran’s Chabahar Free Trade and Industrial Zone on the coast of the Sea of Oman, Karbasian said, because Chabahar has rail links, which can be used for transfer of iron ore to the free zone from other parts of Iran as well as from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan.

According to a report by the US Geological Survey, Iran has more than 3,000 active mines, producing 9 percent of the world’s gypsum and 2 percent of molybdenum and nitrogen.

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