Japan firms eye Iran’s rich mineral reserves

TEHRAN (ISNA)- Japan’s leading steelmakers announced interest in Iran’s mining projects, including production of precious metals such as titanium.

Executives of Kobe Steel Ltd, Japan’s fourth-biggest steelmaker, and the State-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) met officials in Tehran and discussed cooperation in Iran’s mine and mining industries sector.

JOGMEC Project Director Satoshi Asawa indicated that his company could partner Iranian firms for financing metals and energy projects and transfer of technology, given the opportunity the conclusion of nuclear talks has created.

Asawa and head of Kobe Steel’s iron unit division Hiroshi Ishikawa traveled to Tehran last week with a delegation of Japanese executives of major industries led by State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Daishiro Yamagiwa.

They met a number of Iranian officials and traders, including head of the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) Mehdi Karbasian.

Asawa said his company was ready to undertake development of iron ore, copper, coal, titanium, potash and other mineral enterprises from production to trade in Iran.

“Iran is blessed with rich mines, including iron ore resources. One of the technologies owned by our holding is for extracting iron ore from a depth of 1,500 meters, which we can offer to Iranian companies,” local media quoted Asawa as saying.

He said Japanese companies are capable of offering various economization solutions for projects.

Iran has a variety of projects on offer to start cooperation with the Japanese companies, ranging from exploration, mining and processing to high added value production, Karbasian said.

Kobe Steel’s priority is to produce iron ore pellets and sponge iron in Iran, Ishikawa said, adding his company had already provided technology license for direct reduced iron production to Iranian firms.

Karbsian outlined Iran’s plans to quadruple steel production to 55 million metric tons a year by 2025.

“In addition to our plans for production of base metals such as steel, copper and aluminum, we seek (foreign) cooperation for execution of projects to produce rare earth elements and titanium,” he said.

Iran is estimated to hold around 60 billion metric tons of mineral reserves, making it the 15th richest country in this category. Up to 68 types of minerals have been discovered across the country.

Iran’s zinc reserves are the world’s largest, with copper, iron, uranium and lead ranked between seventh and 12th. However, mining and mineral industries combined account for less than five percent of the country’s GDP, Press TV reported.

By ISNA