Image by David Holt, via Wikimedia Commons Accessed 20.11.2017
While natural resources in Iran are most commonly associated with oil and gas, the country’s mining sector usually attracts less attention – at least in the West – even though Iran holds around 7% of the world’s minerals, according to a 2017 report from Iran’s Parliament Research Centre.
Iran is located on the Alpine-Himalayan Belt, one of the world’s richest belts in terms of minerals. It boasts that it sits over 68 different minerals with reserves totalling 40 billion tons, worth about U.S. $770 billion. The country has 8% of the world’s zinc reserves, 3% of global lead reserves and over 30 million tons of copper reserves; and, it has more than 37 billion tons of proven and 57 billion tons of potential reserves.
In fact, the country's potential mineral reserves are probably even higher than the total discovered figures. According to Head of Mineral Explorations at the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade Asadollah Keshavarz, a lack of technology prevents exploration from going deeper than 20 meters – against the global average of 80 meters (Financial Tribune, 25.02.2017).
This is to the ire of its political elite.
Deputy Head of Explorations at the Geological Survey of Iran, Behrouz Borna, deplores such a lack of investment, explaining that it prevents the realisation of the country’s true potential in the mining sector. Mobilising this industry with the required investment and expertise would be a real coup for Iran’s political elite, who have much to prove over the next four years.