Editorial Feature

Iran: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources

Iran, formerly known as Persia, is a part of the Middle East countries bordering the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea, and the Gulf of Oman. It lies between Pakistan and Iraq. The total area of the country is 1,648,195 km2, and it has a population of 78,868,711 as of July 2012. The country’s climate varies from arid in most areas to subtropical along Caspian coast.

The national flag of Iran.
Image Credit: CIA Factbook.

Since the 1990s, Iran has had poor relations with the United States for various reasons and has been put under several US, UN, and EU economic sanctions and export controls.

Iran also faces political and civil instability. As the country’s private sector is restricted to only small-scale activities, informal market activity has taken over the country.

The government of Iran relies on oil for a major part of its revenue. The rise in global oil prices in 2011 increased the oil export revenue by about $28 billion and helped the economy tide over the financial consequences of the economic sanctions. The GDP of Iran in 2011 was $1.003 trillion.

Iran’s natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, coal, zinc, sulfur, copper, iron ore, lead, chromium, and manganese. The country has a well-developed mining sector employing about 106,000 people. However, mining accounted for only 0.8% of the GDP in 2010.

Overview of Resources

As of 2010, Iran’s crude oil and natural gas liquids production ranked fourth in the world. It is said to have 15.8% of the world’s proven natural gas reserves and 9.9% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

Production statistics of mineral commodities in 2010 are provided below:

  • Gypsum and pumice - 9% of the world’s total production
  • Barite - 4%
  • Feldspar - 3%
  • Molybdenum - 2%
  • Nitrogen - 2%
  • Sulfur - 2%
  • Cement, iron ore, and silica sand - more than 1%.

Through the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO), the government controls most of the big mining and mining-related companies such as those producing natural gas, petroleum, coal, aluminum, copper, iron and steel, salt, ammonia, and sulfur.

The map of Iran. Image Credit: CIA Factbook


In the beginning of 2010, the 147,000-t/yr-capacity Hormozgan aluminum complex (Hormozal) began operations. Similarly, two other aluminum projects, namely, a 276,000-t/yr-capacity smelter construction project of South Aluminum Co. and an 110,000-t/yr-capacity expansion project of Iran Aluminum Co. progressed that year.

The Zarshoran gold project went ahead as planned in 2010. The new mining facility is designed with a production capacity of 3,000 kg/yr of gold, 1,000 kg/yr of silver, and 800 kg/yr of mercury. The mine was slotted to begin operations this year.

The Gharb Asia Steel Company with a capacity of producing 550,000 t/yr of cold-rolled steel plates began operation in 2011.

Industrial Minerals and Gemstones

In 2010, Iran had many petrochemical projects lined up including two large fertilizer projects. One of them was the construction of a 770,000-t/yr-capacity ammonia plant by a joint venture between the National Petrochemical Co. of Iran and Nagarjuna Fertilisers and Chemicals Limited Co. of India. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

Reports claim that Iran’s current annual cement production capacity is estimated at 72 million.

Fossil Fuels

As of 2010, Iran had about 40 oil fields in operation. There were many other oil fields that were under development.

Some of the hydrocarbon refineries under construction were:

  • Anahita refinery at Kermanshah
  • Caspian refinery in Golestan Province
  • Horumuz refinery
  • Khuzestan extra-heavy crude oil refinery at Abadan
  • Pars refinery at Shiraz
  • Persian Gulf Star refinery at Bandar Abbas
  • Shahriyar refinery at Tabriz

These refineries are likely to increase the domestic supply of gasoline by 2013.


Although there has been some foreign investment in the mineral sector in the last couple of years, the large-scale mineral industries will have to rely on government funding as they are controlled by the state.

Export statistics for the current Iranian year reveal that the value of steel products exported by Iran increased by14% in the first 6 months. Almost 633000 t of iron ore were exported as well. IMIDRO also announced that the country had exported $571 million of steel and aluminum products. These statistics show that the mining sector continues its operations despite the country’s poor international relationship.

Disclaimer: The author of this article does not imply any investment recommendation and some content is speculative in nature. The Author is not affiliated in any way with any companies mentioned and all statistical information is publically available.

Sources and Further Reading

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