Iran has embarked on a massive mining exploration drive in its resource-rich Kerman province amid a tidal wave of interest created by a nuclear accord in investment by foreign companies.
An expanse of land stretching over 44,800 square kilometers will be scoured for reserves where six zones containing deposits of chromite, titanium, copper and iron ore have already been identified, the IRNA news agency said.
The field for prospecting extends from Abadeh in the Fars province to Jazmorian near the Sistan and Baluchestan province.
Kerman already has an extensive mining industry and the province’s deposits account for the biggest coal consumption in Iran.
The iron ore reserves of Gol Gohar are one of the world’s largest, yielding up to five million metric tons a year. The copper mine in Sarcheshmeh near Rafsanjan is also one of the world’s richest.
Iran’s mineral reserves are estimated at 60 billion metric tons, including 37 billion metric tons of proven deposits. Officials say known reserves have been found on explorations over only 7% of Iran’s total area.
In September, Deputy Economy Minister Mohammad Khazaee said Iran planned to attract $15 billion of foreign investment in its largely underdeveloped mines and mining industry sector.
Deputy Industry, Mine and Trade Minister Mehdi Karbasian has said France, Italy, Russia and China had prepared “special investment packages” which included financing development projects in the sector.
Among foreign firms, executives of Kobe Steel Ltd, Japan’s fourth-biggest steelmaker, and the State-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) met officials in Tehran in August and discussed plans for cooperation.
On Saturday, IRNA said construction of an iron ore pelletizing plant in Bafq in the Yazd province had been awarded to Kobe Steel after the Chinese side was removed from the project.
The Sechahoon plant will have a capacity to produce 5 million metric tons of iron ore pellets a year to be used as feedstock in steel production. It will be built with 122 million euros of investment in the form of finance and usance.