Iranian miners are seeking $10 billion to develop a domestic aluminum industry that could serve to export 60 percent of production to meet growing demand for the metal used in cars to jets and beverage cans. The raw material bauxite needed to achieve that goal is proving hard to find.
Iran’s aluminum production of 350,000 metric tons a year is below capacity of 470,000 tons because of a shortage of bauxite and insufficient electricity generation, Mehdi Karbasian, managing director of state-owned Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, said at a conference in Tehran Wednesday. With additional investment, Iran could boost output to 1.5 million tons by 2025, he said.
Unlike Iran’s oil industry which was crippled because of international sanctions, the domestic aluminum business was held back because a 25-year effort to develop a bauxite mine in the West African nation of Guinea still hasn’t produced.
The 50-50 partnership with the Guinean government was renewed for another 25 years, and Iran is now awaiting a consultant’s recommendation by September on how to make the mine operational.
“The mine in Guinea has more than 500 million tons of bauxite, but it’s far from the sea and there is a need for rails to be put in place,” Karbasian said in an interview in Zurich. “We are weak when it comes to bauxite reserves.”
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