Iran to Seek Bids on 15 Mining Deals as Gold Supply on Rise

  • President Rouhani visiting France and Italy to sign deals
  • Gold production seen tripling from 2013 by next year

Iran will seek bids for 15 mining projects for international investors to develop, with production of zinc to gold and iron ore seen getting a boost with the end of sanctions.

President Hassan Rouhani plans to visit France and Italy in November to sign development agreements on some of the projects, according to Mehdi Karbasian, deputy minister of Iran’s Ministry of Industries, Mines & Trade, said in an interview in Tehran. Tenders to develop the 15 projects should be issued within the next four months, with the first one proposed in October to build the Neekouyeh gold mine west of Tehran, he said.

Iran’s gold production is forecast to triple from 2013 to 10,000 kilograms (321,507 troy ounces) by next year, with iron ore, steel, chromite, aluminum , bauxite, copper and zinc output also growing, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The country reached a deal with international powers in July to ease sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, and the rapprochement will pave the way for expanded access for overseas companies.

“We will not put any restrictions on the participation of international companies interested in Iran’s mining industry,” Karbasian said. “Interested parties can come forward for 100 percent ownership or enter into joint partnerships with us or do so with a local or international company of their choice.”

In the Middle East and North Africa, Iran and Morocco are the major miners of metals, according to Mowafa Taib, USGS’s lead minerals analyst for the region. Its aluminum production will grow to 1 million metric tons by next year from 820,000 tons in 2013, and copper output will be 500,000 tons by 2020 compared with 220,000 tons in 2013, Taib said in a presentation provided to Bloomberg. It also has bauxite, lead, zinc, chromite, steel and iron ore.

Iran is seeking $20 billion to develop a domestic steel industry instead of courting overseas sales because of a worldwide glut, Keyvan Jafari Tehrani, head of international affairs at the Iranian Iron Ore Producers and Exporters Association, told Bloomberg last month. The country’s production of iron ore, used to make steel, will rise to 40 million tons next year from 38 million tons in 2013, according to USGS’s Taib. Steel output is set to jump to 55 million tons by 2025 from 22 million tons this year, Karbasian said in August.

Aluminum and steel projects have generated the interest of Italian companies, while French firms are eyeing aluminum and “technical cooperation,” Karbasian said.

Iran also wants partnerships with international companies active in rare earth metals. “The possibility for the exploration of titanium and scandium is very promising,” he said.

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