To Day Thursday, Jul. 18, 2024
InterviewMining chain requires present-day technology

Mining chain requires present-day technology

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Deputy Minister and Chairman of the Board of Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO), Mehdi Karbasian, maintains that rapid technological changes suggest essential needs in mining and its associated industries, and ultimately lead us to acquire up-to-date knowledge in the exploration, extraction and processing fields. He emphasized that the reserves of the main open-pit mines in Iran are coming to an end shortly, so underground mine is the only

available choice for the time being. According to him, achieving major goals such as the 55mt of steel and 440,000t of copper have highlighted the issue of reliable mineral resources. He also referred to the technologies introduced by foreign consultants to the country's mining industry in recent years, particularly after the agreement between the E3/EU+3 and Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).


What has recently led us to employ new technologies in various economic sectors, including mining and its associated industries?

A brief look at the technological changes in a recent decade shows that previously it took many years for a change to occur but nowadays everything is facilitated. The universal phenomenon is a part of today's

business including mining and industry. The presence of the cellphone in modern life is a symbol of rapid change. We are experiencing an era where the competition has intensified and to survive; the companies are forced to adapt to new changes and employ emerging technologies.


What are the opportunities and threats in Iran's mining sector?

In the mining sector, for instance, there has been a decline in the valuable minerals and reserves with high alloy content. These mines were mostly open-pitted. Over the past decade, Angouran Zinc Mine,

Zanjan province, was the primary source of raw materials for the zinc industry in Iran.

However, the evaluations indicate that the life of the open-pit mine ends in the coming years.

Consequently, the 480,000t capacity of zinc ingot production cannot be supported by the mine. Other detailed reports also indicate that the major iron ore and copper mines in Iran are facing the same problem.

As a result, the issue of underground mines has come up for discussion for a while, but the shift from open-pit to underground mining will be based on new technologies.

The aerial geophysics survey of some of Interview these open mines has not even been carried out systematically because this type of exploration was previously done by using a helicopter or aircraft. However, satellites can detect thousands of meters depth.


What are the changes occurred in Iran's mining technologies in recent years?

Over the past years, we have cooperated with foreign and local reputable companies and qualified experts in the field of exploration. International consultants from Australia, Canada, Germany, Britain, and

other countries, having the latest mining and industrial technologies, were the main contributors to Iran's exploration projects. The increase in the deposits of iron ore, coal, gold and even zinc, over the past two

years, was due to applying new technologies. The exploratory plan incepted in 2014 led to the exploration of 400 new anomalies. Our estimate suggests that 350mt iron ore, 400mt coal, and 50t gold have been added to the Iranian reserves. Moreover, a great attempt is made to protect the environment. To

improve environmental standards, IMIDRO has asked the subsidiary companies to engage foreign experts as consultants.

Since last year, a Norwegian consultant has been hired for Parsian Port Project, West of Hormozgan province. Likewise, in the production and processing plan of titanium, an Australian consultant was used.

This unique project was halted for many decades and finally was undertaken in Iran. Also, feasibility study of some projects including the bauxite mines in Guinea-Conakry, and Nepheline Syenite and Zinc of Mehdiabad Mine are updated by a foreign consultant.


There are some news that due to the crucial issue of water consumption in Iran, some steel plants intend   to cut the consumption by developing new plans. Can you explain about the projects?

One of the great consequences of JCPOA was cooperation with Kobe Steel Ltd., a major Japanese steel manufacturer, aiming to reduce water consumption in Direct Reduction Iron (DRI) production by using MIDREX process.

Once the plan is implemented in Iran, about 40% reduction will be achieved in the water consumption of  the mentioned plants which is significant considering the climate of Iran.


Are we going to witness applying modern technologies in new projects and plants?

According to the strategic plans, designing the production lines, machinery, and other new equipment will be in line with declining water, electricity and gas consumption. Indeed, some fundamental reforms will be adopted in the old production lines to cut energy consumption.


How do you evaluate the role played by JCPOA in this regard?

In fact, I can emphasize that a significant part of the negotiations conducted to enhance the technology of exploration, extraction, processing, and production of sponge iron and other products was owing to the

JCPOA. The point to be borne in mind is that IMIDRO is no longer included in the blacklist of sanctions. When the sanctions were lifted, there was an increase in technical cooperation between Iran and other countries.

Of course, over the past years, Iranian experts were successful in acquiring technical knowledge in new areas such as launching the first pilot plant for the production of petroleum coke, the production and extraction of rare earth elements, and the production of the first rare earth alloy ingot. In general, collaboration with foreign companies to improve the level of technology ranging from exploration to final processing and production has always been on the agenda.





 Mine&Business TODAY