Iran Mining Industry Based on the 20-Year Perspective 2025

 Iran minig industry 

Iran has had an active mining sector for some 7000 years. Exceptional in terms of its mineral diversity, Iran produces 62 minerals, and is ranked among the world’s 15 most mineral-rich countries. Many people around the world know Iran as one of the major petroleum exporters. Oil and natural gas dominate Iran’s economy, and oil exports provide the principal source of income, contributing more than 80 per cent of foreign exchange earnings. Transformation of Iran from an oil exporter to an independent country to oil has been on the table for many years, even before the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Development of the Iran’s mineral industry is one of the major replacements for petroleum exports. In the last decade, Iran invested billion dollars in the mining and mineral industry sectors and to increase the added value, tried to export processed minerals instead of the raw materials. In accordance with the ‘20-year Perspective 2025’ that targeted by the Supreme Leader, Iran will be a country with the fi rst rank in economy, science and technology in its region. The objectives over this perspective include briefl y increasing annual production to 55 Mt of crude steel, 800 000 tonne of copper cathode, 1.5 Mt of aluminium, 200 Mt mineral products, 300 000 tonne of zinc and 5 000 kg of gold.

Mining and mineral industry are important sectors in many developed, developing and poor countries. However, mining industry in comparison with many other industries is known risky and its successfulness depends on and is sensitive to economical, environmental, social, political and other circumstances. As each country has its own national and international conditions, no sole program can be considered for all countries. Mineral resources management is becoming more important than the past, because these resources are non-renewable. The utilisation of mineral resources by us has not to jeopardise the needs of the future generation, so it is our responsibility to utilise these resources with the best manner. The concept of ‘sustainable development’ is the best guideline for mining operations in the third millennium. On the other hand, mining is changing because of increased liabilities and costs of environmental and safety issues; lower grades of minerals in traditional mining activities and the advent of new biochemical processes and robotic equipment. More productive and economic alternatives and larger more sophisticated and automatic equipment are also changing the industry. Engineering is more specifi c, accurate, precise and expensive. Measurement is more thorough and timely of progress, production, costs and productivity. And, the industry will likely be engaging in more undersea mining, possibly space-based processing, less human interaction and more remote control of events than was previously thought possible (Lawrence, 2011). Therefore, the best technologies are to be used by the mining industry for a sustainable development. Iran is a large country with a huge amount of oil, gas and mineral resources. The strategic situation of Iran and the recent political events around the world, particularly in the Middle East, caused the development programs of the country to be confronted severe challenges.

IRAN’S SITUATION AND POPULATION

Iran covers 1 648 195 km2 ; with Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Armenia bordering it to the north, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the East, Turkey and Iraq to the west, and the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman to the south. Iran’s northern seaboard (the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest lake) extends for 644 km, and the length of its southern seaboard (Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman) is 1952 km. The strategic Strait of Hormuz (Ormuz) is also located in this region. Administratively, Iran is divided into 31 provinces (Figure 1). The population of Iran is approximately 75.5 million people and the current population growth rate of the country is 2.3 per cent. According to the statistics published by the SCI3 related to the sixth census in 2006, the population of women was 49.1 per cent and urbanised population was 68.5 per cent (SCI, 2011).

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Iran has had an active mining sector for some 7000 years, and the Archimedes dynasty was considered to be the most important period for mining (contributing, for example, the stones at Persepolis). Discovering of ancient metal-mining sites in Iran indicates the existence of rich grades of precious and base metals. Moreover, significant Inscriptions, evidence of metal working and sculptures from ancient times demonstrate a long history of advances in mining techniques Iranians were the professionals of their time. Recent discoveries from the Assyrian civilisation have included signifi cant caches of copper, iron, and lapis. Other civilisations in the region were mining silver, lead, iron, antimony and tin. Iran has been governed by many kingdoms for 2500 years (~500 years BC) and altered by a revolution from Pahlavi Kingdom to an Islamic Republic in early 1979. Iran’s offi cial religion is Islam and Zoroastrian but Christianity and Judaism have also been authorised in the Iranian constitution.

GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE

Economical, environmental and social sustainability of the development programs are affected by the political robustness of the governments. Hence, the government structures should be taken into account in evaluation of the effectiveness of the development programs. Government structure of the Islamic Republic of Iran is complex. The Islamic Republic of Iran has a Supreme Leader as chief of state (Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei since June 1989), elected by a panel of leadership experts elected by the general public. The chief of state ratifi es the election of a president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the sixth President and was elected in August 2005). The country is governed by the president, an Islamic Parliament and municipal councils. These political authorities are elected by the votes of Iranians but all candidates must fi rst be qualifi ed by the Guardian Council. This council has twelve fi xed members of whom six are appointed by the country’s Supreme Leader. Iran has three governmental authorities: Legislative, Executive and Judicial, all under the umbrella of the Expediency Council, which is supervised by the country’s Supreme Leader. The Islamic Parliament (Legislative Assembly) has 290 legislators who are elected for four-year terms. The number of the legislators may increase to 310 in the parliamentary elections that will be held in early 2012. All the laws ratifi ed by the Islamic Parliament must be approved by the Guardian Council. The Expediency Council is an advisory body for the Supreme Leader with an ultimate adjusting power in disputes over legislation between the Islamic Parliament and the Guardian Council. The Supreme Leader appoints its members, who are prominent supreme, social and political fi gures. In July 2011, the Supreme

Leader formed a new Dispute Resolution Committee for resolving disputes between the governmental authorities. The president, as head of the executive authority, is elected for a period of four years and can be elected for the second four-year. The Judiciary defends the individual and collective rights of Iranians, and the head of the Judiciary is appointed directly by the chief of state. The fundamental structure of the Islamic Republic of Iran government is shown in the Figure 2. This illustrates the chain of command and lines of communication from the chief of state and the President to the Islamic Parliament and the various Ministries (Mining Journal, 2008). Recently, in compliance with force of the government shrinkage, the Ministry of Industries and Mines merged with the Ministry of Commerce and formed the Ministry of Industries, Mines and Commerce.

The structure of the Iranian commerce was governmental for 80 years, but after activation of the Article 44 of the Constitution, it is transforming to the private sector and this facilitates foreigner’s investment in the mining and mineral industry which has a key role in development of the country. IMIDRO (Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organisation) was established in 2002 as a subsidiary of the former Ministry of Industries and Mines, with a remit to respond to the country’s needs in the minerals sector and improve effi ciency in the extraction of mineral resources. This organisation controlled many of the larger capacity mining and mineral processing companies, especially those that produced iron and steel, copper and aluminium.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS

The Mining Code of 1998, which was based on Articles 44 and 45 of Chapter 4 of the 1979 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and various amendments to the Mining Code, regulated the mining sector. By the end of the war between Iran and Iraq (September 1980 to August 1988), the government started preparing fi ve-year development programs to reach its economical, cultural and social objectives in accordance with domestic demands. The fi rst (1991 - 1995) and second (1996 - 2000) development programs were designed generally to bring Iran out of the crisis situation created by the war and state-model of economy.

Transformation of political and economical atmosphere and conditions of the country totally changed during the third (2001 - 2005) and fourth (2006 - 2010) development programs and as a result new objectives and aims was born, many of them insisting on organisational reforms considering local demands and unavoidable international intercourse.

The fourth five-year development program, particularly, was prepared on the basis of the ‘20-year Perspective Document’ to minimise uncertainties about the resolutions and key policies of the country. This perspective will be completed at the end of 2025. The fourth fi ve-year development program, was designed to accelerate and stabilise the economic growth, control the infl ation, provide necessary backgrounds for achieving economic competitiveness in local and foreign markets and granting necessary means for non-petroleum exports, strengthen private and cooperative sectors and strive for achieving diversifi ed economy based on human resources, science, and technology.

The objectives over the 20-year Perspective 2025 are discussed in the following paragraphs but they include briefly increasing annual production to 55 Mt of crude steel, 800 000 tonne of copper cathode, 1.5 Mt of aluminium, 200 Mt mineral products, 300 000 tonne of zinc and 5000 kg of gold. Objectives over the fourth fi ve-year development program include in short 710 000 tonne aluminium, 1.8 Mt alumina, 3 Mt coal, 440 000 tonne of copper cathode, 2000 kg gold, 20 000 tonne of molybdenum and 28.9 of crude steel. Almost none of the aforesaid targets were achieved at the end of the program. For example the capacity of copper cathode production did not exceed 240 000 tonne by the end of the program (Sami-Nejad, 2011).

Discussion about the reasons of these failures is beyond this paper. The fi fth fi ve-year development program (2011 - 20155 ) is the second fi ve-year development program of the 20-Year Perspective 2025. The overall policy of this program which is based upon the ‘development and justice’ has been determined by the Supreme Leader of the country. This program that has been published by the PDSPC6 consists of nine chapters with 235 clauses ratifi ed by the Islamic Parliament on 5 January 2011. Approximately 50 per cent of the clauses are under the chapter 5 related to the economics. Clauses 150 to 160 of this chapter are related to the industries and mines. The clause 150 implies enhancement the competitiveness of the country’s industry, diversifi cation of the industrial products to be exported, merger and clustering of the small, medium and large scale industries to form the competitive corporations and development of the downstream industries with the fi nance of the private sector. No annual production targets have been considered for the minerals in this program. It is envisaged that the targets to be determined and controlled by IMIDRO.

PETROLEUM SECTOR

Oil and natural gas dominate Iran’s economy, and oil exports provide the principal source of income, contributing more than 80 per cent of foreign exchange earnings. Reserves, located mainly in southern Iran and offshore in the Persian Gulf, amount to some 138 400 M bbl of oil and 27 500 Gm3 of natural gas. Iran held 15.8 per cent and 10.3 per cent of proved worldwide natural gas and oil reserves respectively (Mobbs, 2011). In accordance with the statistics published by the government, oil production of the country exceeds 4 M bbl/d, but OPEC8 believes that the actual rate is less than the announced amount (Wikpedia, 2011b). Except the hydrocarbon sector, with producing of 5.3 per cent of the world’s output, Iran ranked fourth in the biggest world’s producer of crude oil and condensate – natural gas liquids (BP, 2010).

MINERAL RESOURCE

Iran has over 4000 mining operations with mineral extraction growing at an annual average rate of ten per cent in the recent years. According to a report from the former Ministry of Industries and Mines, total mineral resources (at ‘shallow depth’) are estimated at 55 000 Mt of which 37 300 Mt are in the measured and indicated categories. The GSI (Geological Survey of Iran) reports that 40 per cent of these resources are limestone with 30 per cent being metallic deposits.

MINING SCENE

Exceptional in terms of its mineral diversity, Iran produces 62 minerals, and is ranked among the world’s 15 most mineral-rich countries. In accordance with the statistics published by SCI, there were 4116 active mines and 75 458 employees in whole of country in 2008 (SCI, 2008), and in accordance with the statistics published by CBI at the same year, the share of this sector in the GDP of the country was 0.8 per cent (CBI, 2007, 2008). Of the major objectives of the 20-year Perspective 2025 that targeted by the Supreme Leader is to reach the fi rst rank in its region in economics, science, and technology.

Regarding to Economic report and balance sheet by CBI in 2008, this could be attained with accelerated and sustained economic growth, raising per capita income, an emphasis on software development and scientifi c progress, and reaching full employment. To reach these strategic targets, it is necessary to determine basic concepts, strategies, suitable patterns, and guidelines for development plans over the course of the 20-year Perspective 2025. Based on objectives of the 20-year Perspective 2025 for the mining sector, Iran annual production capacity of crude steel and copper cathode will reach to 55 Mt and 800 000 tonne respectively. The current Iran’s annual production capacity of crude steel is 20 Mt.

In the copper cathode field, Iran has 240 000 tonne annual production capacity of copper cathode and recently it is planned to reach to 700 000 tonne by 2014. There are several small private sector copper mining operations in the country but Iran’s copper industry is dominated by NICICO (National Iranian Copper Industries Company), which operates the world class Sar-Cheshmeh open-pit operation near Rafsanjan in Kerman Province. About another metals like aluminium, Iran has 457 000 tonne annual capacity of aluminium ingot.

NUCLEAR POWER IN IRAN AND AROUND THE WORLD

At the moment, 443 nuclear power plants are running worldwide and further 62 facilities are being built (Charlier, Blomen, and Slotta, 2011). Many countries changed their future plans for nuclear power generation after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on March 2011. German government intended to gradually decommission all of its nuclear power plants by 2025 and simultaneously expand renewable energies.

Iranian nuclear power is a different story. Iran is trying to supply a part of its electricity requirements from nuclear power. Construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant was started in 1975 by German companies, but the work was stopped in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution. A contract for fi nishing the plant was signed between Iran and the Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy in 1995. Western governments accuse Iran of trying to acquire nuclear weapons under cover of this program. In December 2007, Russia started delivering fuel rods to the Bushehr nuclear power plant, and eventually 65 MW of nuclear power fed into the national power grid on September 2011. The power generation will be increased gradually to approach to its nominal capacity (1000 MW gross capacity). The plant (and all uranium mines and related facilities in the country) are owned by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).

Gachin is the only uranium-mining operation in Iran. Situated near Bandar Abbas, Iran’s largest port, the small plant adjacent to the mine produces yellowcake that is fed to the Esfahan UCF plant to produce uranium hexafl uoride gas (UF6). The throughput and nominal capacity of this small plant is 14 400 tonne of high-grade ore (1500 - 1700 ppm U3 O8) and 21 tonne of yellowcake (over 10 000 ppm U3 O8).

Ten anomalies have been identifi ed in Saghand, Yazd Province, in central Iran. The geological reserve and minable ore of anomalies 1 and 2 are given as 2.7 Mt and 1.7 Mt, respectively, with an average grade of 553 ppm U3 O8. In spite of the unsuitable conditions, the Saghand mine is under development. Run-of-mine ore will be trucked to the Ardakan concentrator plant. The mine will have a nominal capacity of 120 000 tonne ore and 50 tonne yellowcake. The product of Ardakan concentrator plant will be transported to the Esfahan UCF for further refi ning with a capacity of 200 tonne UF6. This plant has been built on a turn-key basis contract by a Chinese company and has taken 14 years. The encapsulated produced gas is transported to Natanz enrichment plant for production of enriched concentrate with 3 - 4 per cent U-235. Generally, only around 0.72 per cent of all natural uranium is U-235, the rest being mostly U-238. Esfahan UCF’s capacity was supposed to reach 1000 tonne by the end of the fi ve-year development program, but the claimed schedule for expansion was not achieved. Iran is also short of the required imported natural uranium for the mooted expansion of its Esfahan UCF and Natanz facilities (Mining Journal, 2009). 

Based on the latest available statistics, Iran produced 178 904 601 tonne minerals except sand and gravel and produced 70 708 063 m3 sand and gravel in 2008. The total values of mentioned minerals production was US$3.2 billion. Added value and investment value of Iran’s mining sector was about US$2.5 billion15 and US$300 M16 in 2008 respectively (SCI, 2008). Figures 3 and 4 illustrate changes in number of employees in the country’s mining sector, number of mines, and total value of minerals production, added value and investment value in the country’s mining sector between 2002 and 2009. 

According to these fi gures, number of active mines, added value and value of minerals production have sensible growth. The most important reason for the high growth of added value and value of minerals production is increasing the metals prices. For instance the growth of steel and copper prices and the policy of investment in the Iran’s mining sector. Another reason is low production cost that is related to the manpower.

Production value of minerals that Iran produced in 2008 illustrated in Figure 5. As it mentioned before Iran’s total value of minerals production was US$3.2 billion. With this production value, share of Iran’s mining industry in the GDP of the country was 0.8 per cent. The high amount of mineral resources of Iran and very low amount of share related to the mining sector (0.8 per cent) in the GDP of the country means that more concentration on this sector is required. According to Figure 5, share of iron ore, copper, stone, sand and gravel and limestone from total production value are 36 per cent, 28 per cent, 11 per cent, seven per cent and six per cent respectively and only 12 per cent is for other minerals. The share of both iron ore and copper ore mining in 2007 was 32 per cent (one third) of the total mineral extraction of the country (Rashidinejad, 2009). Share of iron ore and copper production value from total minerals production value of Iran in 2008 was 65 per cent and it shows that iron and copper mining in Iran playing the highest role in the country’s mining industry. These figures are matched with the global records.

In accordance with recently published statistics by Raw Materials Group, the share of iron ore and copper mining globally in 2010 was 34 per cent and 18 per cent respectively (Storm, 2011). Of the most important infrastructural requirements for minerals production are energy and water. In 2008, active mines of Iran used 272 369 kWh electricity and 23 413 000 m3 of water. Also they used 26 987 000 litres of gasoline and 685 257 000 litres of gasoil (SCI, 2008). Among the big 20 steel producer countries, only USA, Russia, Mexico, South Africa and Iran have three required elements for steel production: iron ore, water and energy (Shahryari, 2009).

IRAN’S MINING INDUSTRY BASED ON THE 20-YEAR PERSPECTIVE 2025

In accordance with the 20-year Perspective 2025 that targeted by the Supreme Leader, Iran will be a country with the fi rst rank in economy, science and technology in its region, with Islamic and revolutionary attitudes, role model for the world of Islam and with positive and effective cooperation in international relations. Some topics of perspective are listed below:

• a developed country in 2025;

• fi rst rank in economy, science and technology in its region;

• the enjoyment of high-tech, capable of producing science and technology;

• active, responsible, esprit de corps and social consistency, faithful to the Islamic Republic of Iran;

• safe, independent, robust with defensive system on the basis of comprehensive prevention and unity of public with the government;

• role model, active and effective in the world of Islam in order to strengthen the religious democracy paradigm;

• the enjoyment of good health, social security, equal opportunities, sound environment;

• positive and effective cooperation in international relations on the basis of pride, wisdom and prudence; and

• entrepreneurship and full employment.

To reach the goals of the 20-year Perspective 2025, each sector has prepared a plan for its next 15 years. The quantitative objectives for Iran’s mining sector based on Iran this perspective are as follows: The objective for the annual production capacity of Iran’s crude steel is 55 Mt for 2025. Iran’s intention is to invest US$700 per tonne of crude steel. Copper cathode’s annual production capacity should reach to 800 000 tonnes.

The objective for the annual production capacity of Iran’s crude steel is 55 Mt for 2025. Iran’s intention is to invest US$700 per tonne of crude steel. Copper cathode’s annual production capacity should reach to 800 000 tonnes.

Current annual production capacity of copper cathode is 240 000 tonne. Iran’s intention is to invest US$5000 per tonne of copper cathode (IMIDRO, 2009). Copper is produced both by pyro- and hydro-metallurgical methods. Pyro-metallurgy consists of copper ore mining, crushing, grinding, concentration (fl otation), dewatering, fi ltering, smelting, refi ning and casting. An acid plant will be constructed besides any smelter. There are several heap- and bio-leaching projects in whole of the country. About the aluminium, another important strategic metal, Iran’s intention is to increase its annual production capacity to 1.5 Mt and to invest US$3000 to US$4000 per tonne of aluminium. Aluminium production line consists of bauxite extraction, alumina and aluminium ingot production. As the bauxite reserves of the country are very limited, Iran is hoping to secure these raw materials through a government-to-government agreement committing it to invest in bauxite mining in Guinea-Conakry. The current annual mineral extraction in whole of the country is 290 Mt and it is planned this fi gure reached to 500 Mt by end of the fi fth fi ve-year program. As mentioned in the previous paragraphs, share of Iran’s mining industry in the GDP of the country has not been exceeded 0.8 per cent and based on the 20-year Perspective; it should be reached to 1.2 per cent by 2025. Iron ore and copper are the most profi table minerals of the country.

IRANIAN IRON ORE MINING AND STEEL MAKING BASED ON THE 20-YEAR PERSPECTIVE 2025 OBJECTIVES

Traditionally, the consumption of steel has been thought to be closely linked to the rate of economic growth, which infl uences the level of activity in steel intensive sectors, such as capital equipment, construction, transportation, and consumer durables. The quantity of steel consumed is even considered an indicator of industrial development as nations move to higher stages of industrialisation.

Steel consumption is also a key factor that leads economic growth during industrialisation because the steel industry, the so-called ‘rice of the industry’, is the core that forms the base of a national economy (Huh, 2011). Developing countries accounted for 49 per cent of total iron ore exports in 2009. Australia, Brazil and India with iron ore exportation of 360 Mt, 266 Mt and 116 Mt and China, Japan and Europe with iron ore importation of 628 Mt, 105 Mt and 100 Mt were the ‘big three’ exporters and importers in 2009 (Eriossen, Löf and Östensson, 2010).

In some references the steel per capita consumption of 300 kg is considered as a cut-off for indication of the industrial development. It is obvious that the duration and sustainability of this rate should be taken into account as well. In some other references the steel per capita consumption for developed, developing and poor countries are considered 350 - 800 kg, 100 - 350 kg and minus 100 kg respectively. The steel per capita consumption of Iran was 289 kg in 2009 of which, 170 kg was domestic production. In the same year, Iran produced about 11 Mt of steel which is equal to 0.9 per cent of the world’s production (Rashidinejad, 2011). From a production value standpoint, iron ore mining has the highest share of the country’s economic in the mining sector. Iran with production of 33 Mt iron ore in 2010, ranked 10 in the world (Jorgenson, 2011). Table 2 shows the situation of Iran among the world’s biggest iron ore producers. The mineral resource of Iran’s iron ore is estimated to be 4405 Mt (Table 3), but this should be considered as minimum, because further explorations are underway in whole of the country.

There are 61 active iron ore mines in Iran of which three mines employed more than 500 persons, one mine employed 300 - 499 persons, fi ve mines employed 100 - 299, fi ve mines employed 50 - 99 persons, seven mines 20 - 49, 11 mines 10 - 19 and 29 mines have under ten employees. The biggest iron ore producers of Iran are Gol-e-Gohar (GEG), Sangan, Chadormalu, Choghart and the mines belongs to ICIOC (Iran Central Iron Ore Company). GEG iron ore complex holds 1140 Mt of mineral resources of iron ore and has the production capacity of 5 Mt of iron ore and it will be increased to 20 Mt by 2025. Its average grade is 54.7 per cent and its concentrate Fe content is 67 per cent. Its fi ne/lump product average Fe content is 60 per cent. The capacity of annual pellet production should reach 20 Mt by 2025.

Sangan mine with approximately 1200 Mt of mineral resources is the biggest iron ore mine of Iran based on its reserve. The current production of the mine is 1.5 Mt of iron ore that most of them exported to China. A new concentrator plant with the capacity of 2.6 Mt will be commissioned in early 2012. Four 5 Mt production lines of pellet has been planned for this mine. The mineral resources of Chadormalu mine is about 377 Mt. Average grade of this mine is 55 - 56 per cent. This mine with its four line concentrator plant produces 8.5 Mt concentrate with Fe content of 67 per cent. To supply the feed of its concentrator plant this mine produces more than 12 Mt Iron ore. The future plan for this mine is to reach 10.5 Mt concentrate production capacity and 3.4 Mt pellet production capacity and to supply its future concentrator production capacity, this mine should produce 20 Mt iron ore per year by 2025.

Choghart is one of the oldest iron ore mines of Iran, and its preliminary exploration starts at 1961. Most of the product of this mine is supplied to the Isfahan steel making plant. This mine with minable ore of 138 Mt is producing more than 3 Mt iron ore per year.

Iran’s annual production capacity of crude steel is 20 Mt. According to the 20-year Perspective 2025, Iran annual production capacity of crude steel should reach to 55 Mt. Comparing the situation of Iran mining industry at this time with the 20-year Perspective 2025 objectives shows that Iran annual production capacity of crude steel should growth 35 Mt (175 per cent) in the next 15 years. To reach this objective, Iran should have about 80 Mt concentrate capacity in 2025. The development programs of the big Iranian iron ore mines that explained in the aforesaid paragraphs exceed the target of 55 Mt.

According to the ‘Iranian targeted subsidy plan’ or ‘subsidy reform plan’, one of the most important goals is to replace subsidies on food and energy (80 per cent of total) with targeted social assistance, and move forward to free market prices in a fi ve-year period. By the way, the price of all kinds of energy (electricity, natural gas, gasoline, gasoil, etc) faced a huge increscent increment. This change of cost on energy is a very important challenge for investors and all companies that work in the mining sector (Wikpedia, 2011a).

The second point is the required finance for the development plans. The development plans are consist of construction of the concentrator plants that produce the concentrates of >67 per cent; the pelletising plants that produce pellets suitable for DRI (Direct reduced iron); direct reduction plant that produce pig iron and steel making plants that produce crude steel. Increasing of each metric tonne capacity for these unites needs the following fi nances as: US$60 - US$70 for iron ore concentration, US$60 - US$80 for pelletising, US$120 - US$130 for direct reduction, US$190 - US$210 for steel making, so the overall cost is US$430 - US$490. It’s obvious that if the capacity of a production line increases or a cheaper technology is being used, the required investment tends to the lower limits of the mentioned unit prices and vice versa (Rashidinejad, 2011).

Based on the 20-year Perspective 2025, Iran planned to invest US$700 for increasing of each tonne capacity of its crude steel. Based on the mentioned simplifi cation for estimating cost of investment, to reach the targeted production capacity of crude steel is essential to invest at least US$430 - US$490 per each tonne capacity; so minimum amount of required investment for 35 Mt increscent in production capacity of crude steel is about US$15 - 17 billion. If Iran invest US$700 per each tonne capacity based on its plan for 35 Mt, the total investment will be US$24.5 billion. This amount is more than minimum required investment for this objective; so if Iran can finance this amount, reaching to its objective for steel sector is achievable. On the other hand IMIDRO on behalf of the Iranian government is looking for the fi nance from private sector, but the outlook is not very clear.

IRANIAN COPPER ORE MINING AND COPPER CATHODE MAKING BASED ON THE 20-YEAR PERSPECTIVE 2025 OBJECTIVES

Copper ore is the second most profi table mineral in Iran’s mining industry. Iran has 4 - 5 per cent of the world’s known copper inventory (Mining Journal, 2008). After completion of the recent exploration campaign in the NICICO, Iran ranked ninth in the world and it is expected that this ranking improved to eight after further exploration drillings. The most important copper mines of Iran are Sar-Cheshmeh, Sungun and Miduk. The world class Sar-Cheshmeh copper mine is the largest copper mine of the country. In accordance with the latest exploration results with the cut-off grade of 0.15 per cent, remaining mineral resources of Sar-Cheshmeh copper mine is more than two billion tonnes. During the past 30 years, about 380 Mt of copper ore extracted from this mine (Sad Mohammadi, 2010). Sungun copper mine, is the second largest copper mine of the country. The capacity of the concentrator plant adjacent to the mine is 150 000 tonne of copper concentrate with grade of 30 per cent. The throughput of the concentrator plant is 7 Mt. The production of both mine and the concentrator plant will be duplicated during the current second expansion program. The new mines under development are Darezar, Daraloo, Chah-Firoozeh, Iejoo, Chah-messi, Chel-Kooreh.

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