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December 2016, No. 81


IMIDRO Exclusive

 

The new exploration plan, an underlying program for the development of mines and downstream industries, was developed and implemented under the government of Hassan Rouhani.


Extensive and Unparalleled 250,000 km˛ Exploration Operations by IMIDRO 

Iran is rich is 68 types of minerals and 57 billion tons of proven reserves. Yet, this amount of deposit is the result of explorations carried out in the past decades. According to the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade, this figure represents merely 7 percent of the total 1.648 Mkm˛ area of Iran.  

Likewise, the realization of the country’s development objectives in the areas of steel, copper, aluminum, zinc, gold, coal, etc. seeks new explorations.

Since March 2014, complying with an order of the Chairman of IMIDRO, a new comprehensive plan was developed to implement exploration operations covering 250,000 km˛ of the country’s area. The plan started under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade, IMIDRO and the Geological Survey of Iran (GSI) and IMIDRO was entrusted to implement the plan. Under the Act of Congress, Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO), is recognized as the leading organization active in the field of mines and mining industries and is chiefly responsible for the development of this sector. The developed plan was in line with the emphasis made by the Supreme Leader to realize the objectives defined in Resistance Economy.

The new exploration plan, an underlying program for the development of mines and downstream industries, was developed and implemented under the government of Hassan Rouhani. It covers 250,000 km˛ of the country’s areas and is 2.5 times more extensive than all explorations made in the past 80 years.
There is no denying the fact that the plan plays a crucial role in achieving balanced development in the country, promotes the role of mining in national economy and decreases reliance on oil revenues.


In consistent with its developmental mission, IMIDRO has outlined and undertaken some plans to make up for the historical exploratory backwardness of the country.


Given a variety of mining potentials and valuable metallic and nonmetallic reserves, Iran, with about 7% of the global reserves, is ranked as one of the top 15 countries in the world.

The country is located at Alpine-Himalayan metallogenic belt which gives it the advantage of being a frontier in the Middle East and Central Asia in terms of mining-exploration operations, IT, and investment in mining sector.

At least 8 world-class mines are located in Iran which will contribute the country in competing at the international level.

In addition, owing to the development and exploitation of the mentioned mines, Iran will be able to acquire the first stand in employment and national income generation. The explored and exploited deposits in Iran are about 57 BT which is not comparable to the size and potentials of the country.

In consistent with its developmental mission, IMIDRO has outlined and undertaken some plans to make up for the historical exploratory backwardness of the country. The exploration plans are set to achieve the following objectives:

1.   Discovering a variety of new mining reserves to develop the mining sector and increase its share in GDP

2. Providing a suitable platform to attract domestic and foreign investors by providing exploration documents which comply with international standards

 3. Making exploratory investment in deprived regions with high mining potentials to control the reserves, initiate development, create job opportunities, and provide security in these areas

4. Creating multiproduct economy, taking steps toward sustainable development, and turning mine into one of the important pillars of the country’s economy

 5. Discovering strategic metals and supplying industries with their required raw materials

 

Since 1393 (2014-2015), in line with the roadmap, broad exploration activities have been planned and implemented in the country, based upon the following priorities:

1. Employing modern exploration technologies such as implementation of airborne geophysics to discover hidden reserves

 2. Conducting exploratory operations in a zone with an area of 250,000 km˛ on east and west borders of the country and also deprived areas in order to create employment in less-developed regions

 3. Carrying out systematic exploration operations based on the most recent scientific achievements in order to discover mining reserves

4. Reviewing and re-evaluating of available exploration–mining results and information that comply with international standards and quantification in order to cut investment risk and increase participation rate

5. Diversifying mining exploration activities such as exploration and processing of antimony, titanium, chromite, rare earth elements, low-grade iron ore, phosphates etc.

According to the divisions, the whole exploration operations of IMIDRO are divided into “Exploration Areas” and “Exploration Projects”.


Under the 11th government, the coverage of credit insurance of MAIIF has increased by 10 times and this has improved the support status of the mining sector.


IMIDRO’s Exploration Operations in New Areas

IMIDRO’s new exploration plan starts from prone Sangan Mine (in north east) and extends to eastern and other areas of Iran. The result of such a huge project undertaken in 27 zones was identification of 300 mining areas. The details of the plan is as follows:

 

1. Carrying out identification and prospecting operations in 21 provinces covering 33 areas in more than 250,000 km˛ of the country’s areas

2. Identifying 300 new promising mining areas as follows:

a) 76 promising areas in Sangan, Razavi Khorasan 

b) 28 promising areas on the borders of Sistan and Baluchestan

c) 12 promising areas in Saravan, Sistan and Baluchestan 

d) 16 promising areas on borderlines of South Khorasan 

e) 100 promising areas in Abadeh, Jazmourian 

f) 60 promising areas in the central regions of Iran

g) 10 promising areas in Ardebil province


3. Carrying out general exploration, detailed, and complementary phases of 82 exploration projects across the country on various minerals such as iron, coal, polymetal, gold, copper, antimony, lead, zinc, chromite, titanium, nickel, molybdenum, barite, phosphate, bauxite, brines (potash, magnesium, lithium, etc.).Upon carrying out the complementary phase of Zarshouran gold mine, up to 50% was added to the mines reserves.
 

Cooperation with 100 Private Companies  

In line with IMIDRO’s policies on attracting private sector participation as well as foreign investment, several meetings were held. Likewise, the first call for assigning an area to private sector was made in Nikouieh gold mineQazvin, in 1394 (2015-2016).

Over 100 private sector companies participated in the consulting; contracting and other affairs in the last three years and the whole exploration operations were handed over after the tenders. Some of the local companies enjoyed the cooperation of foreign partners. 

Investment in Exploration 

The annual budget allocated to the exploration sector in IMIDRO is $40 Mn.

In 2015-2016, the organization and its major affiliated mining companies invested over $49 Mn in exploration projects, indicating more than 2% growth compared with that of preceding year.

Total drilling operations carried out in this sector was 180,000M in 1394 (2015-2016), indicating 15% decrease compared with the preceding year.

The conducted exploration operations include general explorations and reconnaissance and prospecting which were mainly focused on iron ore, coal, bauxite, rare earth elements, gold, and copper. 

Exploration Projects in 1395 (2016-2017) 

 IMIDRO seeks to continue the same trend of carrying out exploration operations and finalizing projects by attracting private sector participation in 1395 (2016-2017). On the other hand, upon exploration operations some new promising areas will be added to the mentioned areas. These projects, eventually, will result in exploration certificate and issuing operation license.  

Complementary Exploration Projects 

1. Completing exploration and defining development plan for new mines

2. Zarshouran complementary exploration

3. Developing overall bauxite exploration

4. Reconnaissance and prospecting operations of rare earth elements

5. Developing Sangan exploration 

Development of Special Economic Zones in Area of Mine and Mining Industry


IMIDRO’s new exploration plan starts from prone Sangan Mine (in north east) and extends to eastern and other areas of Iran.


IMIDRO as a development organization in Iran’s mines and mining industry sector has established and managed four special zones as follows:

Persian Gulf Mining and Metal Industries Special Economic Zone (P.G.S.E.Z) dates back to 20 years ago. This area is located near Bandar Abbas, with an approximate area of 5,000 hectares, and is divided to southern, central, northern and development sites.

2,000 hectares of the area is under operation and investment companies are implementing and exploiting the projects, while 3,000 hectares are at the phase of infrastructure. The area has a distinct advantage due to having loading and unloading jetties for minerals and petroleum products, 12MT capacity per annum, and is located in the vicinity of Persian Gulf high seas, Shahid Rajaei Port, as well as a 1,200-megawatt power plant.

The company’s operation was started following the launching of the southern site, construction of administrative buildings, roads and facilities, Persian Gulf five-star hotel, freshwater plants, flyovers and railway network.

Currently, due to the establishment of major industries such as steel and aluminum, the region is turned into steel and aluminum hub. 

Lamerd and Parsian Energy Intensive Special Zones 

These two zones provide all required infrastructure facilities for investors and are due to offering land to foreign investors. The areas will witness the implementation of major steel, aluminum, alumina, petrochemicals, cement, as well as petrochemical, steel, and aluminum downstream industries.

The zone will be completed via the establishment of a jetty at the beach to facilitate the entry of raw materials, as well as the export of the finished products. Being close to Asaluyeh Gas Region is another considerable advantage of Lamerd and Parsian Energy Intensive Special Zones. 

Kashan Special Zone 

This area is under construction at the heart of Iran, Isfahan province. Aiming to create infrastructure and inviting domestic and foreign investors to join the chain of mines, IMIDRO has developed mining special zones. This area has a good access to railway network, multiple mines in central Iran, as well as domestic consumption market. 

Importance and Development of Applied Research 

IMIDRO and its affiliated companies have invested more than IRR 301 Bn on applied research in 2013-16. Meanwhile, the companies having IMIDRO as a shareholder such as National Iranian Copper Industries Co., Khuzestan Steel Co., Iranian Aluminum Company (IRALCO), Mobarakeh Steel Co., and other companies have spent IRR 203 Bn on applied research. In total, more than IRR 500 Bn was allocated to the development of applied research.

IMIDRO has financially supported 39 research, 26 books, and 25 relevant seminars.

Likewise, aiming to help brilliant students, IMIDRO supported 394 thesis and postgraduate dissertations associated with mines and mining industry.

The organization made an attempt to provide research and technology development hardware leading to the development of research activities in the future. 

Major Research and Technology Programs 

1. Using an optimization model to evaluate and analyze development of steel industry considering the shortage of water and energy in the country

2. Implementing an efficiency evaluation process in mines and mining industries based on IMIDRO’s efficiency model

3. Supporting postgraduate theses and dissertations

4. Studying genesis and factors of gold mineralization formation and concentration in Sanandaj-Piranshahr road using new technologies to provide solutions for exploration operations

5. Conducting laboratory studies on Tangestan samples taken from South Khorasan

6. Designing and manufacturing portable artificial respiration device to work in coal mines

7. Studying feasibility, genesis, and formation and concentration factors of lithium as a strategic metal in outcrops of sediments (hectorite clays) in Semnan by using new technologies

8. Geochemistry and mineralogy of platinum group elements in chromite deposits and peridotite host rocks located at central Iran in order to introduce new indices

9. Complementary phase of studying the extraction of precious, rare, and strategic metals from electronic waste

10.  Complementary phase of identifying mineral elements required for future technologies and evaluating their extraction methods in the country

11.  Complementary phase of studying the current situation and future of new technologies in mining explorations

12.  Vanadium recovery and extraction (V2O5) from vanadium-bearing slags in laboratory scale aimed at designing a semi-industrial unit (pilot plant)

13.  Testing feasibility and conceptual design of underground coal gasification in Iran- a pilot study

14.  Studying the production of metallurgical grade silicon ingots

15.  Developing technology of mobile processing units in small mines by gravity method

16.  Studying environmental pollutants and developing IMIDRO’s data base and environment software

17.  Iron and titanium extraction from iron ore placer deposits

18.  Applied research on processing and extraction of materials and strategic elements required in advanced and emerging technologies

19.  Studies and applied research on improved productivity of mining industries and units 

20.  Using new technologies (Nano and biotechnology) in applied and development research in the field of mines and mining industry

21.  Development of technical and scientific knowledge required for the development of the country's mines and mining industry

22.  Providing the software and hardware infrastructure required for research and technology development 

Training  

In 2013-16, IMIDRO and its affiliated companies held more than 810,000 hours training courses for 68,000 participants. In total, 2,400 training courses were held, while the average efficiency of the training courses was ranging from 78.5 percent (least) to 93 percent (most).

Likewise, the organization held 348,800 hours training courses for 13,950 participants in private sector companies and small mines. In total, IRR 5,940 M was allocated to the increase of productivity in the mines and mining sector via training courses.

In the mentioned period, 18 courses were held for 1,200 people and 10,000 hours training were run by foreign professors.

In addition, some training courses for foreign applicants will be offered in 2017.

In the last 3 years, 34,000 training courses were held for more than 6 million participants by Mobarakeh Steel Co. (Isfahan), National Iranian Copper Industries Co., Khuzestan Steel Co., Iranian Aluminum Co., Al-Mahdi Aluminum Co., Hormozal Aluminum Co. and other companies affiliated to IMIDRO.In total, about 6.8 person/hour training was undertaken in this sector.  

Iran Mineral Activities Insurance Investment Fund   

Iran “Mineral Activities Insurance Investment Fund” (MAIIF) is a supportive institution created to reduce investment risk in the mining sector. MAIIF is considered a subsidiary of the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development & Renovation Organization (IMIDRO).

Over the past three years, the fund has been trying to promote its status in the mineral field, especially with regard to Economy of Resistance through investment increase and changing strategy.

Having the full support of IMIDRO Chief Mehdi Karbasian, MAIIF has succeeded in making up for the mistake of the previous government and has been pulled out of the list of companies for transfer to the private sector.

According to the measures taken by the 11th government, the amount of registered capital in MAIIF has increased by 11 times and this has revived development of the mining sector. This Fund, under the incumbent government, has taken a new look to its obligations and has put its focus on projects with added value and more and sustainable employment in the mining sector so that investment and mineral activities have been promoted considerably.

Under the 11th government, the coverage of credit insurance of MAIIF has increased by 10 times and this has improved the support status of the mining sector. The fund started its official activity over 14 years ago. Its mission has been defined as contributing to sustainable development of the mining sector and its main target is risk reduction or coverage as well as helping development of this sector. In the meantime, the risk coverage in exploration investment and issuance of guarantee bonds for receiving facilities from the banks (agent) are two major activities of the fund.


Localization of technical knowhow in the field of rare earth elements is among other achievements of this center, which is ready to transfer the knowledge to other countries.


At the time of its registration, MAIIF had a small amount of capital at its disposal: that is 100 billion rials. But in the 11th government and thanks to the new managing director of IMIDRO, the issue of increasing the capital with an aim of expanding activities and offering further services to the mining sector, was followed up and finally realized in the 1394 (2015/16) budget bill. The bill stressed that out of the money received by the National Development Fund, 425 million dollars will be allocated for increasing the capital of the fund which was fortunately realized by the middle of last fall and thus the capital increased from 100 billion rials to 1,100 billion rials.

The remarkable point in increasing the MAIIF capital is that it resulted in a significant rise in the risk coverage coefficient of the fund and the ceiling of the total insurance bonds ready to be issued. Meanwhile, this increase in the capital has been registered in the Companies Registration Office.

Since 2002/03 (the beginning of the activity of the fund) up to 2012/13 the total number of guarantee and insurance bonds issued reached 1417 with a value equal to 2,680 billion rials. In 2013/14, the number of insurance and guarantee bonds issued reached 71 with a value of 180 billion rials. However, in 2014/15 the number reached 67 with a value of 490 billion rials. In 2015/16, the number of issued insurance and guarantee bonds reached 57 with a value of 510 billion rials. At the first glance it may seem that the number of insurance bonds issued has been reduced but the point is the shift in outlook and strategy that has been developed in MAIIF. In this way, from 2002/03 up to 2012/13 “each year” at an “average” the value of the insurance and guarantee bonds issued reached 260 billion rials. This figure dropped to 180 billion rials in 2013/14 while in 2015/16 it amounted to 510 billion rials. In other words, the number of insurance bonds decreased but their value increased in accordance with the new policies of IMIDRO and MAIIF. This is due to the new priorities of the investment fund that has focused on issuing insurance bonds for projects with high value added.

For the years 2002/03 to 2012/13, the average value of each credit insurance bond was equal to 3.9 billion rials, which reached 8.7 billion rilals in 2013/14. This figure increased to 20 billion rials in 2014/15 with the acceleration of plans to pay attention to high value added projects. Finally in 2015/16 the average of each credit insurance bond reached 38 billion rials. This means a quadruple increase in the value of each insurance bond issued by MAIIF. On the other hand in the insurance sector for exploration risk the average figure of each insurance bond increased from 38 million rials in the decade between 2002/3 and 2012/13 to 270 million rials (in 2015/16). This figure indicates a seven fold increase in the insurance bonds issued in the starting years of the administration of Hassan Rouhani who came to power in 2013.

In the post-sanctions era, with the cooperation of IMIDRO, negotiations have been held with reputable foreign companies for the supply and manufacture of mining machinery. In the talks, even private sector institutions such as the House of Mine were present. The plan is that foreign partners consider the fund a guarantor for the facilities they would provide. In addition, we expect to receive three to five year credits from foreign companies. The reason for formulation of this plan is that the mining sector in the past 10-15 years has been in need of renovation and reconstruction of its equipment but no significant measure has been taken in this regard. Of course, in this field a new model is required for cooperation, which should be designed and implemented. It should be noted however that big mining machinery manufacturing companies usually have financiers to support them. 

Iran Mineral Processing Research Center:
Self-Reliance, Indigenization and Processing Development  

Iran Mineral Processing Research Center (IMPRC) as one of the first research centers in the world in the field of mineralogy, chemistry, processing and indigenization of equipment and parts of mineral processing, has taken satisfactory measures and been able to make major achievements in the said fields. Indigenization of technical knowhow of rare earth elements and production of the first antimony ingots and construction of its production line, production of four misch metal ingots from rare earth elements and 42% increase in the revenue of the center, are among achievements of the past three years.

The center, in recent years, has achieved an average 42% growth in different sectors (mineralogy, chemistry, processing, environment and construction workshop) as compared to 2013/14.

The IMPRC development targets in the field of processing equipment manufacture and establishing contacts with reputable and leading research centers are in the area of processing, focusing on processing of rare earth elements, organizing training courses, expanding the mineral processing studies market in different fields and equipping laboratories with new and advanced devices.

In the center’s new round of activities under the incumbent government, different achievements have been made such as:

·         Formulation of the goals and two-year operational plans including short-term goals

·         Prioritization of the projects

·         Allocation of the required resources

·         Introduction of reform in organizational structure and human resource management system in the center

·         Projects under implementation and forthcoming projects

·         Definition and establishment of the industrial marketing unit in the organizational structure

·         Preparation and regulation of cooperation agreements with international companies such as Min Tech of South Africa and Mineral Technology of Australia with an aim of accessing international projects and benefiting from the expertise of the mentioned companies in the implementation of projects in the processing sector

·         Correspondence with provincial industry, mine and trade departments in order to prepare the ground for absorption of provincial projects by the center

 

Among other achievements, mention can be made of inauguration of the project for processing studies and feasibility studies of rare earth elements and attaining the knowledge of producing rare earth elements and strategic substances. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran Atomic Energy Organization, Dr. Sorena Sattari, Vice-President for Science and Technology and Dr. Mehdi Karbasian, Chairman of IMIDRO on February 28, 2016.

Extraction of ingots of rare earth elements for the first time in the country and gaining access to the technology for production of rare earth elements metals and strategic substances such as misch metal, pure cerium ingots (Ce), pure yttrium ingot (Y), concentrates of promethium and lutetium Pm + Lu and concentrates of strategic metals took place in this area.

Localization of technical knowhow in the field of rare earth elements is among other achievements of this center, which is ready to transfer the knowledge to other countries. Also for the transfer of technical knowledge in some areas, including iron ore, copper, etc., training of foreign experts is on the agenda of the IMPRC and so far, two training courses have been held for experts of ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization) member states.

In the construction workshop and localization sector in recent years the center has made the following achievements:

·         Conclusion and implementation of important countrywide mineral, chemical and systematic projects, such as development of mobile processing unit technology for small mines through the gravity method

·         Manufacture of heavy cyclonic media separation device for private sector

·         Installation, launching and operation of the project for production of antimony ingot of Sefidabeh, Nehbandan

·         Installation and operation of relevant equipment and devices

 

Iran Mineral Processing Research Center in the laboratory section, has also taken measures such as:

·         Improving customer satisfaction and providing diagnosis program

·         Obtaining credentials for standard lab quality management system according to the ISO/IEC 17025:2005

·         Chemistry and mineralogy experiments and processing of IMIDRO exploratory samples

·         Provision, section preparation and analysis of drilling and geological samples of the National Iranian Copper Company

 

It has also taken measures in the processing section such as:

·         Extraction of iron and titanium from the placer deposits

·         Feasibility studies of processing rare earth elements

·         Studies in surface chemistry with Nano micro flotation on fine-grained Esfordi phosphate

·         Conducting processing studies on the tailings of Sangan iron ore particles through dry method

 

Among other measures taken in the center, reference should be made to:

·         Study of environmental pollutants and preparation of IMIDRO data and software bank on environment

·         Conducting two auditing by Iran National Accreditation Center and Alborz Province Standard Department and receiving ISO/IEC 17025 standard of quality management from INAC and certificate of trusted peer from the department

 

Among development programs of the center are:

·         Development of the processing sector in relevant specialized fields

·         Operation and implementation of the mobile pilot through manufacture of mobile equipment for small units

·         Development of cooperation with advanced countries in the field of mineral processing

·         Preparation of grounds for and development of processing knowledge and their application in mineral industries

·         Boosting the marketing sector for the attraction of foreign investors in the mining sector and concluding cooperation agreements with related foreign companies for the implementation of joint research projects; gaining access to international projects; taking advantage of the expertise of the mentioned companies in the implementation of projects in the processing sector; increasing customer satisfaction through facilitating contacts with the center

·         Preparing the workflow process with customers in all fields ranging from sending of samples, accountability, time and cost of the work, how to deal, and accuracy of the results

 

Yet among other development plans of IMPRC, the following can be cited:

·         Motivating, promoting the level of skills and efficiency of the staff and employing capable and qualified people in laboratories through implementation of projects for improvement and use of systems and patterns related to organizational reinforcement

·         Development of the scope of activities associated with related tests through studies and purchase of equipment

·         Proper relationship with competent suppliers and contractors for the center’s supply of demands

·         Detailed control of and full monitoring over the implementation of all the projects for increasing efficiency and improvement of its results

·         Continuous improvement in the collection of activities and performances through the quality management system and implementation of laboratory standards and offering quality, accurate, and affordable services to the customers, at given time and by reliance on standards and laboratory methods

Communication with foreign centers is one of the necessities for the development of a research center. To this end, the IMPRC with the cooperation of the training, research and technology bureau of IMIDRO, has taken measures for inspecting reputable mining companies in the world and signing memorandums of understanding for cooperation with international scientific and research centers, including Min Tech MSA Group, Fraser Alexander, and Maelgwyn Mineral Service for the development of cooperation in the field of processing mineral substances. Also, in recent visits of the mining minister of Conakry Guinea and the head of the Vincent Co. China to the center, emphasis was put on development of technical cooperation in the field of mines.

In addition, the IMPRC on October 23-24, held the first international symposium of those active in the processing of mining materials through inviting processing professors and experts from different countries. The symposium, held discussions in an effort to synergize international interactions in different fields such as new methods and equipment for mineral processing, processing of rare earth elements, processing of titan magnetic, gold and precious metals, recycling materials from waste and tailings, the role of analysis in mineral processing, environmental studies, and economics in mine and mineral industries. Beside the event, it held a training course, for the third consecutive year, for experts from ECO member states.

 

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