Why Iran is moving to halt exports of raw minerals

Al-Monitor— Mining could play a pivotal role in all economies, whether directly or indirectly, through providing materials for other industrial sectors. In Iran, the mining sector remains underdeveloped, despite the fact that the country is among the top 10 mineral-rich states. Government control over mines, which leaves little role for the private sector, and exploration problems coupled with lack of modern technology are some of the reasons for the underdevelopment. Meanwhile, exports of minerals are mainly in the form of raw materials, which generate far less revenue than processed products. As such, the Iranian mining sector currently accounts for only slightly more than 1% of gross domestic product (GDP), even as officials believe that the sector can have a far greater share of the economy. To this end, measures have been taken over the past years to boost the mining sector — among them, an initiative to end exports of raw minerals.

The initiative was first introduced by the Iranian parliament back in 2010, and was included in the bill on the Fifth Five-Year Development Plan (2010-2015). It set the target of ending the selling of raw minerals in the final year of the plan (which ended March 19, 2016). That target, however, is yet to be achieved, with officials now saying that it will be materialized by the next Iranian year (beginning March 21, 2017).

In July, Mehdi Karbasian, head of Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, said that the selling of three key minerals in raw form, including copper and iron ore, will be stopped in the first half of the next Iranian year as domestic demand for iron ore is expected to increase with the inauguration of several processing plants in coming months.

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