A large number of foreign delegations have visited Iran over the past few months to explore investment opportunities and negotiate participation in Iranian projects.
During this period, Iran held numerous conferences to present the country’s investment opportunities and economic projects.
In the meantime, Iranian provinces with considerable economic potentials, such as South Khorasan Province, did not sit idle and were host to a large number of foreign delegations.
South Khorasan Province has numerous potentials in mining, industrial, agricultural and tourism sectors.
Chinese, German, Swiss, Polish and Afghan traders and businessmen were among the very first volunteers who expressed willingness for participation in the province’s projects.
Among the projects they showed enthusiasm for cooperation are the production of cast iron as well as launching a coal mine, which are currently underway in the province, and constructing a railroad in the east of the country which will pass through Zahedan (Sistan-Baluchestan Province) and Birjand (South Khorasan Province) on its route and connect to Mashhad (Khorasan Razavi Province) and Bafq (Yazd Province).
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, South Khorasan Governor-General Vajhollah Khedmatgozar expounded on the province’s untapped potentials and listed a number of its development projects.
IRAN DAILY: More than 40 types of minerals have been identified in the province. What are the plans to mind them?
KHEDMATGOZAR: A total of 53 types of minerals have been found in the province each with a proven reserve of 2.4 million tons. The province has 579 units which store 608.79 million tons of minerals per annum. Industry owners of have so far obtained 67 permits which allow them to produce 4.03 million tons of goods per year.
They include the production of magnesium oxide, fire-resistant products, Portland cement, magnesium ingot, coke and coal concentrate, tile and ceramic, sanitary ware, ornamental stones, marble and granite, industrial and mineral powders, mineral products and industrial soils.
Some 105 new permits have also been issued for establishing mining industrial units, which once operational, will increase the province’s mineral output by 10.07 million tons per annum.
Following the July 14 nuclear deal and the lifting of the sanctions, scores of foreign firms have lined up avidly to begin or resume cooperation with Iran. Could you please list the countries that have announced willingness to invest in the province’s projects?
China, Germany, Switzerland, Poland and Afghanistan are some of them. They are keen on funding the province’s mining, industrial, agricultural and energy projects.
A number of cooperation proposals have also been put forward for investment in breeding camel, constructing solar and wind power plants and processing minerals such as nickel.
Also, a number of expert meetings have been held to study foreign investors’ offers.
Has there been any foreign request for participation in the province’s national projects?
Foreign financiers have shown considerable interest for investing in the construction of the railroad in the east of the country which, once completed will reduce the distance between Central Asia and Chabahar by 345 kilometers.
A section of this railroad runs through South Khorasan Province. This project will bring greater prosperity in the region. The Iranian government is fully prepared to use foreign funds.
In addition, we have presented a number of projects in international conferences and exhibitions including the construction of the second band of the province’s highways, launching wastewater treatment plants and building industrial units to process minerals.
How much is the credit share of the province’s projects of the state budget bill for the year to mid-March 2017?
The total credit approved to be allocated to the province amounts to $77.62 million.
The province shares joint border with Afghanistan. Are there any plans to boost economic ties with the country?
The two sides’ officials have exchanged a large number of visits. Among the projects the two sides plan to implement are establishing four joint border markets, turning Yazdan border market into an official border checkpoint and building a clinic in Mahiroud border market.
What are your plans to improve the province’s tourism sector?
The province has amazing tourism potentials and capacities such as desert, beautiful villages, hot springs, sour water springs, caves and gardens. As stipulated in the Sixth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2015-20), we are required to increase annual income from desert lands by establishing and improving the necessary infrastructures to this end.
This year (started mid-March 2015), the number of foreign tourists to the province grew significantly. We intend to invite a number of foreign ambassadors to South Khorasan to assure them of the province’s increased safety and the high quality of its tourism infrastructures.