Iran's Deputy Industry, Mining, and Trade Minister Darioush Esmaili says the country’s Mining Investment Insurance Corporation (MIIC) is going to allocate 30 trillion rials (over $714.2 million) for supporting mining exploration projects, IRIB reported.
Speaking to the state TV on Sunday night, Esmaili said the ministry’s programs regarding the mining sector should be directed in a way that the exports of mineral raw materials is minimized and limited to situations where it is not possible to process the minerals.
Previously, the export of minerals was exempt from taxes, which encouraged the sale of raw materials, but this exemption is currently eliminated by the parliament and a major step has been taken for preventing such exports, the official said.
He further noted that the ministry has it on the agenda to increase the country’s discovered mineral reserves by 25 percent in the current Iranian calendar year (ends on March 20, 2021).
Esmaili stated that one of the Industry, Mining, and Trade Ministry’s main programs in the current year is to provide the necessary equipment for the mining sector, saying: "Three projects have been defined in this sector, one of which is equipping and renovating mines."
"In this regard, we have had meetings with manufacturers and importers of mining machinery, however, our priority is domestically-made machinery," he added.
According to the deputy minister, up to 150 iron ore mines are currently idle across the country, most of which have been shut down due to the equipment shortage or financial issues.
He noted that over 20 million tons of iron ore have been exported from the country in the past ten years but the figure has fallen significantly in recent years.
"This figure fell to less than six million tons in [the previous Iranian calendar] year 1398 (ended on March 19), most of which was exported in the first six months."
Back in May, the Iranian Industry, Mining, and Trade Ministry signed a trilateral memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Geological Survey and Mineral Explorations of Iran (GSI) and Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) for expansion of the country’s mining sector.
Development of cooperation in the fields of exploration, extraction, and processing of minerals, utilization of capacities, experiences and abilities of each sector, and attracting more investment from the country’s private sector and cooperatives in this industry were reported to be some of the main goals of the signed agreement.
In late April, Esmaili had said that the Industry, Mining, and Trade Ministry has provisioned operational targets in the mining sector’s three major areas of exploration, extraction, and processing, for the current year.
“In the mining industry sector, we have targeted a 25-percent increase in the production of mineral products, and in the exploration sector, we will add about 20 percent to the previous reserves.”
The mining sector accounted for 25 percent of the country’s non-oil revenues in the past Iranian calendar year, he said.