(Fixes spelling, paragraph 1)
By Maytaal Angel
LONDON, March 13 Iran has signed a $1 billion
deal with private investors to develop Mehdiabad, one of the
world's largest zinc mines, which it expects will go on stream
in the next four years and produce 800,000 tonnes of zinc
concentrate per year.
The Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and
Renovation Organisation (IMIDRO) said in a weekend statement it
signed the deal with a consortium of six private companies, led
by Iran's Mobin Mining and Construction Company.
IMIDRO, a state-owned mines and metals holding company, said
Mobin was also talking to international mining firms in
Switzerland and Spain about joint ventures to develop the
Mehdiabad mine, located in Iran's Yazd Province.
Iran has struggled to lure foreign investors since the
lifting of international sanctions against it following a
historic deal signed in 2015 with six world powers in return for
curbing its nuclear programme.
As recently as January, the United States voted to extend
its sanctions against Tehran, the latest of several such
post-nuclear deal moves that have deterred western banks from
financing trade or investment in Iran.
Mehdiabad, a world class zinc, lead and silver deposit, has
154 million tonnes of proven reserves, according to IMIDRO,
which expects the concentrate reserves to reach up to 700
million tonnes once exploration is completed.
The private consortium will run the mine for 25 years,
though their contract could be extended.
On top of the targeted 800,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate,
Mehdiabad is also expected to produce 80,000 tonnes of lead and
silver concentrate a year, IMIDRO said.
According to industry data, 13.2 million tonnes of ore with
zinc content was mined globally last year.
The Mehdiabad project has been under consideration since the
1990s but has faced multiple delays.
(Editing by Jason Neely)