Iran’s mining projects on hold as investors fear new sanctions

Bloomberg– Iran has put on hold “almost all” of its mining agreements with foreign investors as companies from Europe to Asia fear additional sanctions on the Persian Gulf nation’s economy, according to the deputy minister of Iran’s Ministry of Industries, Mines and Trade.

Less than $100 million of projects is moving forward, out of the $50 billion in potential investment the government is seeking from overseas mining companies by 2022, Mehdi Karbasian said Monday in an interview in Tehran.

“Fearing they might get placed on a blacklist in the wake of the return of sanctions, the companies with whom we have made these deals have suspended almost all of the agreements and maintained a wait-and-see attitude,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump imposed new curbs on Iran’s economy after the country conducted missile tests earlier in the year, and U.S. senators have introduced a bill to further tighten restrictions. Iran has more than 5,000 active mines, mostly privately owned, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. Geological Survey. Mining and manufacturing, led by steel and cement, account for 13 percent of gross domestic product, against 16 percent for crude oil and natural gas, the USGS said in the report.

In 2015, as international powers prepared to ease sanctions the following January, Iran was attracting interest from mining companies from Italy and France to Brazil and Australia. Plans were to double steel production by 2025, with German, French and Dutch delegations visiting Iran to discuss investments in steel and mining, Karbasian said in August 2015.

Stalled projects include expansions of Hormozgan Steel and Isfahan Steel, which each had 400 million euros ($439 million) of deals with foreign partners, according to Karbasian, who is also managing director of the state-run Iranian Mines & Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization.