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Recent trends in the nonfuel minerals industry of Iran

July 11, 2016

Summary

In response to the recent removal of international sanctions on Iran, including the lifting of “secondary” sanctions by the United States on investment into and trade with Iran, the U.S. Geological Survey National Minerals Information Center compiled and analyzed available information on the current state of Iran’s nonfuel minerals industry. This Circular features a new map and table that identify existing mines and mineral-processing facilities and provide information on location, ownership, and capacity for metals and industrial minerals whose output levels may substantially change in the near future. Additionally, the report covers Iran’s mineral resources and reserves, official mineral production targets for 2025, and current output and share of global mineral production. Recent trends and developments in individual mineral commodities are discussed, including mineral exploration and partnerships with foreign investors.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that Iran held globally significant reserves of feldspar (2d largest in the world), barite (5th largest), gypsum (5th largest), fluorspar (8th largest), and iron ore (10th largest). The Government of Iran claimed to also have significant reserves of chromium, copper, gold, manganese, phosphate rock, and zinc. In 2014, Iran was the second-leading producer of gypsum and the sixth-leading producer of barite, with 6.1 percent and 3.6 percent of world output, respectively. Iran was also the world’s 7th-leading producer of cement, feldspar, and fluorspar; 8th-leading producer of bentonite; 9th-leading producer of molybdenum; 11th-leading producer of iron ore; and 14th-leading producer of crude steel. The Government of Iran plans to quadruple the output of aluminum, copper cathode, direct-reduced iron, and iron ore pellets; triple that of crude steel and gold; and double that of cement, pig iron, and zinc by 2025. It also plans to double the contribution of mining and to quadruple that of mineral processing to the national economy in the next decade. In order to achieve these major goals, the construction and expansion of several mines and mineral facilities are planned or under development. Whether Iran’s annual mineral production increases as rapidly as envisioned by the Government will depend largely on the amount of foreign investment into the minerals industry; integration of modern technology into mineral facilities; and availability of energy to aluminum, copper, and steel plants at competitive prices to international investors.

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