The plant will have a capacity of 2 tonnes a year (t/y) of pure gold based on the partially catalytic oxidation (POX) process for highly refractory gold with high arsenic and sulphur content. A tender for work at the mine will be issued separately. The consultant is the local Tara Tarh. Last October, Australia’s Rio Tinto said it hoped to start mining in 2008 at Sari Gunay in Kurdistan at a rate of 4 million t/y of ore. It also plans to produce about 4 t/y of gold. Ireland-based Persian Gold is also working on an exploration project in the Takestan area near Qazvin. John Teeling, the investor behind the project, says it is progressing well, but remains a high-risk scheme. He says the company is also looking at other possibilities in Iran’s minerals sector.

‘Work is slow right now because there is snow covering much of the area we’re looking at and this is still a high-risk, grassroots exploration project,’ he says. ‘But we hope to start trenching on one area when the snow melts and identify drilling sites by the third quarter. Because it is working well with the authorities, we are looking at late-stage gold projects in the Yazd and Mashad areas as well as base-metals projects elsewhere.’