Iran, OPEC’s fifth-largest crude producer, has potential to generate more revenue from mining than it does from crude if the government puts more focus on developing the metals sector, according to Mojtaba Khosrowtaj, first deputy minister in charge of trade at Iran’s Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade.
Metals such as copper and lead and higher-priced rare earth elements could be worth “much more” than the nation’s oil industry revenue of about $30 billion, assuming crude at $40 a barrel and exports of 2 million barrels a day, Khosrowtaj said in an interview.
Iran is opening $30 billion of energy projects and $29 billion of mining deals to investors once international sanctions are lifted.
Iran has more than 3,000 active mines, mostly privately owned, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The sector is still using equipment developed 15 or 20 years ago because of lack of funds due to sanctions, Khosrowtaj said.
“We could use new technologies,” he said. “Expansion of construction projects in oil and gas or mining is reliant on banks and insurance companies, and sanctions have delayed them.”
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