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Iran steps up talks with potential foreign investors in metals sector

London — Iran is stepping up talks with potential foreign investors with an eye to developing its mining and metals industries, Mehdi Karbasian, president of state-owned Imidro, the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, said Tuesday.

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Imidro recently held talks with Rio Tinto in Berlin on the possibility of new investments in Iran's aluminum, steel, copper and gold industries, Karbasian said in a telephone interview from Berlin, after opening an Iran-Europe business center.

Two weeks ago top executives of Glencore, Trafigura and Aurubis participated in a meeting in Hamburg to discuss cooperation in the Iranian copper industry, Karbasian said.

Glencore and China's NFC already have business agreements to help develop Iran's copper industry, Karbasian said earlier this year. Iran hopes to raise its copper concentrates output to as much as 2 million mt/year by 2025 in conjunction with partners, from some 200,000 mt/year at present, as part of a national development plan, he said.

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It also is targeting aluminum production of 1.6 million mt/year in 2025, from 400,000 mt/year at present. In March Imidro signed an memorandum of understanding with China's Sinosteel Corporation to establish in Iran a 1.6 million mt/year primary aluminum smelter, together with a 350,000 mt/year alumina production plant and a supporting power plant.

Imidro has also held talks with Indian aluminum producer Nalco and in coming days will host representatives from a group of Australian mining companies, Karbasian said.

The push to boost mining in Iran is part of the country's efforts to achieve a targeted 8% economic growth rate, Karbasian said. Growth has been low in recent years due to the impact of economic sanctions, some of which were lifted in January.

"To get 8% economic growth for the country we need $50 billion each year from foreign investors. We try our best to open up the way," he said referring to efforts to minimize bureaucracy.

Imidro will present some of its mining projects to potential foreign investors at a mining summit in Tehran in July, Karbasian said.

--Diana Kinch, diana.kinch@spglobal.com
--Edited by Lisa Miller, lisa.miller@spglobal.com