Gold Mine Owners Worried About Iran-China Deal
Private gold mine owners in Iran are concerned about whether the controversial China-Iran agreement signed last month hands over full control of the mines to the Asian superpower.
The state-run Tejarat News website reported on April 5 that the Chinese have been working in the mines for quite some time, long before this deal was announced according to Shahram Shariati, the Secretary-General of the Youth’s Industry, Mining and Commerce House, and that because most of the gold mines with larger reserves are state-controlled, private owners don’t know what will happen to their property.
Shariati said: “We have not been told the details of investment or mine extraction in the 25-year China-Iran agreement. But mines, specifically gold mines, are part of the investment deal between Iran and China.”
He explained that China’s previous deals with the regime were also ambiguous for the private sector. In fact, for contracts about technology, sales, and investment, records are sealed and the private sector is not informed.
Bahrām Shakouri, the Chairman of Mines at the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, said that he is also unaware of how this 25-year deal affects the private sector.
He said: “If the Chinese are going to extract gold from the mines as before, only the state knows about the details [and, while parties will only consider their interests when signing a deal], we should not devote our interests to countries like China and Russia.”
To make the situation more confusing, Tehran Chamber of Commerce Head Masoud Khansari approved the agreement saying that the mines required foreign investment, even though it is not clear what the extent of that investment will be.
Iran’s mine reserves contain 250 tons of gold that are being extracted by the state, private sector, and foreign investors.
The Iranian public is furious about the agreement, something obvious from the outpouring of protest in the streets shortly after the signing, with people believing that their country was being sold out from under them. They gathered outside the parliament on March 29 to chant “Iran is not for sale” and “Iranians support us”.
Reza Zabib, the Foreign Ministry’s Assistant for Asia-Oceania Affairs, responded to the criticism by saying that it’s “not customary” to publish “unenforceable” deals, which just brings up more questions. Like why the deal is unenforceable?
The plan is nothing more than an attempt to negate the economic crisis and save the regime’s grip on power, but this is a mistake because of the anger it has inspired in the people.