Iranian state television reported a new gold processing plant, “the biggest in the Middle East”, has been inaugurated, with the hope of doubling Iran’s production of gold up to six tons annually.
The opening ceremony was attended by First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.
The new facility is located near one of the country’s richest mines, Zareh Shuran. It is located 35 kilometers from the city of Takaab in northwest Iran, in an area where gold, silver, and mercury are extracted.
Zareh Shuran gold mine is situated 35 km from Takaab, 15 km from the world ancient monument Takht-e Soleyman
The gold ore reserves of the Zareh Shuran mine are estimated at 20 million tons.
According to Iranian authorities, the plant’s gold production capacity may soon reach six tons per year. Silver and mercury productions are expected to hit 2.5 and 1.5 tons, respectively.
According to the Iranian Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), the plant will use a new technology that was created in Iran and is worth over $31 million.
Some 834 billion rials and 15.2 million euros have been invested on the plant which has provided job opportunities for 250 to 300 workers directly and for 1,000 others indirectly
The gold plant is part of an “Economy of Resistance” introduced by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in February to counter sanctions imposed over Tehran’s contested nuclear program.
The policy includes domestic economy building with maximum utilisation of the country’s resources, and the promotion of a knowledge-based economy and innovation. The ultimate goal is to become the leading knowledge-based economy of the region.
Iran has endured tough sanctions imposed since 2012 over its nuclear program, which the West claims is aimed at developing atomic weapons. However, Iran says the program is for peaceful, civilian purposes. The sanctions resulted in the reduction of Iran’s oil exports by more than half from around 2.5 million barrels per day.
The plant is the first local large-scale plant in its kind in the world with a unique gold production method which has been invented and registered by an Iranian company
World powers are demanding that Iran restrict its nuclear program so that it cannot be used to build atomic weapons.
Iran is currently facing a 24 November deadline, decided by the United States, China, France, Germany, Britain and Russia, to reach an agreement on its program, within the framework of year-long diplomatic talks.
Tehran would have to curb its nuclear work to ensure it cannot be applied to weapons, in exchange for removal of the sanctions that have hobbled its oil-based economy by cutting off the flow of payments for crude exports.