Australia mulls mining investment in Iran, to open economic agency in Tehran

By @diplomatist10 on
Australia's Trade Minister Andrew Robb adjusts his spectacles as he talks to a reporter after the opening ceremony of the Indonesia Australia Business Week in Jakarta, November 18, 2015. Reuters/Beawiharta

Australia will soon send a delegation of senior company officials from the mining, trade, and industry sector to Iran. To be led by the Minister for trade and investment, the visit may take place in May 2016.

This was announced by Australia’s ambassador to Iran, Paul Foley, during a meeting with Mehdi Karbasian, chairman of Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organisation.

The public relations office of IMIDRO also announced that the Australian Chamber of Commerce will be establishing an economic office in Tehran, reports IRNA.

“Australian government and economic firms are well-aware of Iran’s economic investment opportunities; Iran’s markets has special attractions to our investors,” said the Aussie ambassador.

The Australian envoy noted that only a few firms from countries such as Brazil, Canada, and the US could equal the prowess of Australian companies in mining in terms of magnitude and scale. He claimed that they could add significant value to the mining relations with Iran as well.

Minister’s invitation

Meanwhile, Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mining, and Trade Mohammad Reza Ne’matzadeh also extended an invitation to the Australian Director General of the Department of Mines and Petroleum, Richard Sellers.

In August 2015, Gerard Seeber, Austrade’s senior trade commissioner for the Middle East and North Africa, expressed that Australian companies are interested in making investments in Iran’s mining projects, reports Tehran Times.

The report also mentioned the high ranking accorded to Iran by International Organising Committee of the World Mining Congress. Iran is ranked as the 8th country in the world in mineral production and put the country’s total mineral production, including metal and non-metal products, precious stones and oil and gas at US$162 billion (AU$233 billion) in 2013. 

In his remarks, Karbasian urged Australian firms to attend the Iron and Steel Conferences in Iran, especially the Iran Mines and Mining Industries Summit (IMIS) 2016 being held in February.

“Cooperation with Australian partners on information, research, technology transfer, and development in mining sector is a priority; Australian companies should decide on whether they would come to Iranian markets to survive the competition with European and Asian companies,” he said.

Travel warning lowered

Meanwhile, Australia lowered its travel warning to Iran and put the Islamic Republic back on the holiday bucket list of avid Australian travellers. In the past, Australians were advised to “reconsider their need to travel” to Iran. Now the warning has been lowered to “exercise a high degree of caution.”

The decision signals new warmth in ties between the West and Iran after the landmark nuclear deal was struck in mid 2015. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop paid a visit to Iran in April 2015 to discuss the return of failed asylum seekers. She also offered to help Iran with sensitive intelligence in fighting Islamic State extremists, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.