Apart from possessing one of the largest oil reserves in the world, Iraq is also considered to gain enormous recognition for the production of gold in the near future. With a faint history of gold mining in Iraq, the government of Iraq foresees a developing economy in the country with the recent discoveries of gold reserves found in the Western Desert, Kurdistan and in the Aldajh area of Iraq.
With such large quantities of gold found and with future prospects in gold mining, gold production value could someday rival the value of oil produced.
Iraq’s Ancient History in Gold Mining
Iraq’s history associated with gold mining and gold sources, dates back to around 4000 BC. Historical evidence shows that the Sumerian civilization existed during this period in Mesopotamia which is now Southern Iraq.
Archeological studies suggest that the people of Sumerian civilization believed in extraterrestrial beings that came down to earth in order to seek help from the Sumerians to mine gold. Archaeological findings also indicate that there was an abundance of gold discovered in the form of ornaments in the ancient city of Ur.
Texts have revealed that gold was primarily used during royal gatherings, religious ceremonies and during funerals by the royal class. Gold was found at the graves of Ur and then later in the ancient Assyrian city, Nimrud. They were also found in temples and treasures of the royals. These were in the form of ornaments, vessels, utensils, tools, weapons and were also used to add value to sculptures.
The style of gold jewelry crafted during the Sumerian civilization is used in the modern times as well.
Sources of Gold in Ancient History
Archeological texts show uncertainty in the sources of gold in Mesopotamia. However the Sumerian texts do talk about some sources. The mythological land of Aratta, mountain of Hahhum, Meluhha, Delmun, Su land in western Iran and Mardaman in south eastern Turkey were some sources of gold which are named in the Sumerian texts.
Prospecting for Gold in Iraq
Iraqi geologists have been working to figure out locations and quantities of gold deposits. Some have found occurrences of gold in the Gaara formation consisting of ferruginous sandstones and ironstones of the Gaara depression in the western desert of Iraq. Studies reveal that in 1934, Mc Fayden was the first to convey the possibility of finding gold in the Gaara sandstones. However his investigations could not prove the presence of gold deposits.
This was long forgotten until in 1984 when two geologists, Kettanah and Tobia accidently discovered the occurrence of gold while looking for presence of iron.
In 1986, Al-Bassam collected a number of samples from Chabid Al Abid region of Gaara depression and concluded that the proportion of gold found in the samples was not commercially viable. Later in 1999, another study by Mustafa in the same area showed that the samples from region did contain adequate concentration of gold. The above research is documented by Mazin M. Mustafa and Faraj H. Tobia.
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Recent Gold Discoveries in Iraq
Recent discoveries have indicated enormous deposits of gold in the eastern Baghdad region as well as in the Western desert and Kurdistan areas. Mining operations are already in progress in Aldajh area. At other locations such as Fudhaliyah and Obeidi, exploration for gold was reportedly being conducted some time ago.
Iraqi Strategy for Increasing Production of Gold
After the discovery of Iraq’s vast gold deposits, the government has drawn up a long term thirty year plan for exploiting the country’s mineral resources. Accordingly, it is proposed to issue permission to global mining companies for mining and production of gold and other rare metals.
Obviously the current stability of this region will be another concern for other companies. Commercial mining is a long-term interest, and the future stability of the region is always a concern.
Another road block in production of gold and its trade in Iraq is the lack of knowledge regarding gold trade in the local banking industry.
Turkey, which itself is a huge producer of gold, has stepped in to train Iraqi bankers in order to make them competent enough in the gold trade. The Iraqi government is confident that gold could soon become an important commodity just as oil is for the country.