Official statistics for the mining sector in Iran have shown a sharp drop in financial indicators, as well as a significant recession. According to experts, the country possesses at least 43 billion tons of discovered mineral reserves, but at present, nearly 40 percent of the country’s mines have been shut down.
On July 10, the Iran Kargar [Workers] website wrote, “The shutdown and recession began in the last decade and has continued. In the past decade, the growth rate of the country’s mines has constantly been negative or close to zero.”
The website added, “Iran’s mining sector is dire despite its potential capacities. At the time, the country ranks 10th among the world’s 15 leading countries in a diversity of mineral reserves.”
For the first time, Bahram Shakuri, a member of the mining sector’s delegation in the chamber of commerce, revealed that 40 percent of the country’s mines are now closed. Speaking with the semiofficial Fararu website, he also pointed to the officials’ failure to lift international sanctions despite their previous promises.
He stated, “The active part [of the mining sector] has become half-dead and does not work with its entire capacity due to the increase in sanctions. The mineral industry is one of the sectors that could be replaced by the petroleum industry if it received adequate support. However, abandoning the projects prevents this goal from being realized.”
Unreasonable Pressure on Contractors
The Iranian regime routinely imposes unreasonable pressure on contractors for further revenue, forcing many contracting companies to abandon their activities, leading to the shutdown of many mines across the country.
The shutdown of these mines has caused the unemployment of not only the miners but other relevant employees like engineers, transformation workers, etc. In recent months, miners have repeatedly protested the Iranian regime’s destructive policies, demanding that officials allocate ample budgets to allow for the reopening of mines so that they can resume their activities, but their requests have been disregarded.
Sajjad Gharghi, the Mine Commission deputy chair of the Tehran chamber of commerce, said, “Currently, we have around 12,000 licenses for mines exploitation. However, there are only 5,600 active mines, based on the Industry, Mines, and Trade Ministry’s official stats.”
Equipment Depreciation and Mining Operations Reduction
Gharghi also admitted that the regime’s laws and export duties are uneconomical. He also pointed to equipment depreciation as one of the main reasons for uneconomic exploitation, stating, “One of the main challenges in the mining sector is that 80 percent of mineral operations are carried out through equipment. However, this fleet suffers from an extreme shortage in equipment, and in-use equipment is too depreciated and out of work.”
Over the past 43 years, the Iranian authorities’ policies have led to catastrophic results in the country’s mining sector. In addition to the mines’ miserable conditions, the fate and living conditions of thousands of miners and their families remain unclear.
Meanwhile, the government has left the fate of the industry ambiguous by allocating thousands of mines to the “private sector”—which is dominated by officials’ children or relatives beyond the law. Observers believe that the incompetency of Ebrahim Raisi cabinet’s in addressing miners’ essential needs poses another major challenge for the entire theocracy.