We Are Self-Sufficient in Domestic Production
In general, it seems that the country has experienced difficult crises
in different periods, and if we have empathy and unity, and timely
decision-making power, we can overcome this situation.
Deputy minister of industry, mine and trade announced the formation of a
committee in the ministry and in IMIDRO (Iranian Mines & Mining Industries
Development & Renovation Organization) to counter the sanctions and
emphasized: “The country has experienced difficult crises in different
periods and if there are empathy and unity and we have timely
decision-making, we can move through the new conditions.”
Dr. Mehdi Karbasian believes that “the conditions of sanctions and economic
pressures facing the country are not new, and Iran’s economy has been faced
these conditions for many years. In each period, solutions have been
considered to deal with the sanctions.” What follows are excerpts of a
recent interview with Karbasian:
How do you assess the current status of mining and mineral industries?
I believe the least pressure will be imposed on mining and mineral
industries, because the raw materials are domestically made, and,
fortunately, we are self-sufficient in domestic production, but we will
probably face problems in import of equipment and receiving facilities.
All our industries need equipment and facilities, but I believe mining and
mineral industries are less problematic than other areas.
This is what concerns production, but a large part of the revenues comes
from sales. What will be the situation in this sector?
The country’s export capacity in mining and mineral industries is very good.
In 1396 (2017-18) 20% of non-oil exports was related to mining and mineral
industries. This is a very big number, especially when you consider the role
of mining and mineral industries in GDP, the figure stands at about 5% to
6%. Of course, this share has room for growth.
In the first two months of the calendar year1397 (started March 21, 2018),
our production and exports both improved but if the banking system fails to
move money or if the Europeans refuse to cooperate we will face problems
because part of the new markets made available in the field of mineral
industries after the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) over the
past one or two years are related to Europe and even Canada. If these
markets are confined it will be problematic.
Fortunately, we have formed a special committee in the Ministry of Industry,
Mine and Trade and IMIDRO and these issues are being monitored on a daily
basis. In general, it seems that the country has experienced difficult
crises in different periods, and if we have empathy and unity, and timely
decision-making power, we can overcome this situation.
Once it was said that the mining sector could take the place of oil in the
Iranian economy. Considering the new situation in Iran, do you think such an
idea could be realized?
As an expert, I would not prefer the mining sector take the place of oil
because oil, gas, iron ore, coal and gold are parts of mines, and their
exploitation should be positive; but the point is that we should be active
in mining sector so that reliance on oil would decrease in GDP and we can
have product diversity. In calendar year 1396, we had about $45 billion in
non-oil exports, of which about 20% and nearly $9 billion were related to
mines and mining industries. This shows that the economy has taken this
As you know, in 1390 (2011/12) and 1391 (2012/13) steel exports stood at
about 1 million tons; this is while one or two years earlier (namely in 2009
and 2010), we had about 6 million tons of steel imports. But in 1396, our
imports stood at less than 2 million tons which related to steel items alone
that were not manufactured internally and we exported about 9 million tons.
In 1392 (2013/14), crude export of iron ore stood at 23 million tons and the
figure decreased to 18 million tons in 1396 of which 5 million tons were
concentrates. In 1396, we were an exporter of sponge iron, indicating that
the country is on the right track. Given that IMIDRO has paid special
attention to exploration in the past few years, we forecast a clear future
in this field.
The fact is that the size of the country is 1.6 million square kilometers,
and the amount of exploration in the country is more related to open pit
mines, which is not complete. We’ve done 250,000 square kilometers and
there’s still plenty of work to do.
Deep and underground mines are also among the mines we have not worked on.
We have only made 2 drilling operations in the Central Plateau and reached
more than 2 billion tons of iron ore reserves. This indicates that the
country has a large capacity to create balance in the oil, gas and mining
Can you provide us with some Information on the amount of foreign investment
in the mining sector in post-JCPOA period?
After the JCPOA few things happened. First, large mineral and mineral
industries companies came to Iran and our exports to Europe began. The very
important thing was technology. We could not run some projects in certain
areas. For example, the titanium project had been abandoned years ago but we
launched it. In the other sections, we had a similar situation.
good projects worth 100 to 150 million euros through financing or joint
ventures but unfortunately, after the change of government in the United
States, the new government and the Republicans began to threaten European
banks and insurance companies. The fact is that some investments slowed
If you remember, during President Rouhani’s trip to Europe, IMIDRO wrote a
contract with Italian companies at a cost of few billion dollars. We formed
a joint venture, and on the same basis, the projects were defined, but the
progress was slow. The reason was that the European banking system did not
have the cooperation that was expected, but some work was done in small or
medium sized projects.
In total, in 1396, IMIDRO carried out nearly $2 billion of projects and our
forecast is that in 1397 (2018/19) this figure will reach about $6 billion.
All unfinished projects are currently under construction and new projects
are being implemented according to the time table.
We hope that in 1397, large and good projects will be commissioned such as
the 5-million-ton Sangan concentrate project and the 2.5 million ton
pelletizing project of Sangan. We hope that 6,000-ton project of Jajarm
aluminum ingot will be operational until October. There are also several
copper plants available to companies outside IMIDRO which will be
commissioned this year.