A new zinc mining project in Iran, which was recently awarded to a consortium of locals, is expected to enable the country to supply at least 4 percent of the world’s total demand for the strategic metal once completed within the next few years.
The development of Mehdiabad mine in central Iran would require an investment of $1.2 billion for an annual production of 800,000 tons of zinc concentrate as well as other metals.
The project was awarded by the state-owned Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) to a consortium led by Mobin Mining and Construction Company this past Saturday.
According to Iran’s media, this is the first mine development project awarded to the private sector since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and also the biggest privatization project of the past 12 months.
Mehdiabad, a zinc, lead and silver deposit, has 154 million tons of proven reserves, according to IMIDRO, which expects the reserves to reach up to 700 million once exploration is completed.
According to media reports, Mehdiabad has zinc ore grades of between 2 and 4 percent, meaning 800,000 tons of zinc concentrate a year would supply between 16,000 and 32,000 tons of refined zinc to the 13.7 million ton global market annually, Reuters reported.
The project had been under consideration since the 1990s but had faced multiple delays, the news agency added.
The mine, which is located in Iran’s central Yazd province, holds above 150 million tons of definite reserves of zinc - the world’s second largest, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported.
Mohammad-Reza Ne’matzadeh, Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade, described Mehdiabad project as one which could significantly contribute to the added-value chain of Iran’s mining industry, specifically given its potential to satisfy at least 4% of the total global demand for zinc.
On top of the targeted 800,000 tons of zinc concentrate, Mehdiabad is also expected to produce 80,000 tons of lead and silver concentrate a year, IMIDRO announced.