Iran is known to have an enormous amount of mineral deposits in the country with around sixty eight kinds of commercially valued minerals including abundant gold deposits.
One of the leading producers of minerals in the world, Iran ranks in the top 15 mineral wealthy countries on Earth. Many local news authorities of Iran have reported that Iran is projected to have a total of 320 metric tons of gold reserves. As per the short term plan, Iran is likely to produce five tons of gold every year, whereas in the long term it expected to increase its production to 25 tons annually.
Historical and Archaeological Evidences of Gold Mining in Iran
The research paper of Nima Nezafeti, Morteza Momenzadeh and Ernst Pernicka talks about the presence of gold ornaments and tools from the tombs dating back to 4000 BC in Susa, Tapeh Sialk and Kerman.
In the period 3100 to 2600 BC, gold was found at Tall – I Malyan, Tepe Sialk and Tepe Hissar. Some Sumerian texts which date back to 3000 BC indicate that gold was found at Zarshashum, Zarshu and Zarshur somewhere in Iran. The names of these places appear to be similar to the present day Zareh Shuran where the biggest gold reserves in Iran have been found.
A mine in Muteh located in central Iran which is still active, has evidence of ancient mining activities from where mining tools, lamps and pottery have been recovered. Other places where traces of ancient gold mining activity have been found are Khoynari, Kuhzar and Zartorosht.
Important Gold Mines in Iran
The largest gold mine in Iran was discovered in the Takab city of Western Azarbaijan province. It was reported that the city of Takab had confirmed gold reserves of over 4 tons. The ores average approximately 5 grams of gold per ton.
In 2012, Tehran Times reported the discovery of three more gold deposits in the city of Saqquez in Western Kurdistan.
It was estimated that these mines would have as much as 16 tons of gold.
Another news agency reported in 2014 that the Zareh Shuran Mine located in Western Azerbaijan had an estimated 20 million tons of gold ore. The Zareh Shuran gold plant is the biggest in the country and currently produces three tons of gold per year.
After expansion of the production facilities the plant will be capable of producing up to six tons of gold by 2017. The Zareh Shoran mine is located at a distance of 35 kilometers from Takab and 15 kilometers from the monument of Takht – e Soleyman. A huge amount of investment has been made in the plant which provides employment for about 1250 people.
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Other areas in Iran rich in gold deposits
In the years from 1969-1972, rich veins of gold, iron oxide and copper were found in the South Khorasan province of Iran which lies to the west of Nehbandan and around 180 kilometers south of Birjand City of Iran.
Mining activities at these deposits are being carried out since 1972. The other regions which have gold deposits are Meydouk in Shahr-e Babak in the Kerman province, which has been nicknamed the “Land of Copper” due to its valueable copper deposits. Mehrabad and Sheikabad in the east, Nabijan in Kalabar and Alikh in Jolfa in East Azerbaijan Provinve, Khorapeh in Piranshahr, Logheh in Zanjan province, Qolqoleh in Kurdestan province, and Saqquz in Kurdistan all have areas where gold is being mined.
Operational Challenges with Iranian Gold Mining
The Iranian mining operations have been hampered by technology denial by the western world due to the sanctions imposed on Iran because of its nuclear program. With some headway now on the nuclear aspects, the production of gold and other minerals may see a quantum jump once the sanctions are eased.
Iran includes a part of the world that has certainly been underexploited in regards to its mineral reserves. Turbulent economic conditions and volatile political situations certainly curtail the interest from outside mining groups to conduct business within the country.
In fact, production of all minerals in Iran accounts for less than 1% of GDP, despite having some of the richest ground in the world. It is believed that the county holds as much as 7% of the world’s total commercial mineral reserves.
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