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Economy, Mining

daily oil production, central Iran, barite, mineral extraction, chromium

Although the mining sector contributed 17 percent of the GDP in 1996, mineral extraction in Iran employs less than 1 percent of the labor force. Petroleum has long been the countryís most important mineral resource. Since 1913 Iran has been a major oil exporting country. In the late 1970s it ranked as the fourth largest oil producer and the second largest oil exporter in the world. Following the 1979 revolution, however, the government reduced daily oil production in accordance with an oil conservation policy. Further production declines occurred as result of damage to oil facilities during the war with Iraq. Oil production began increasing in the late 1980s due to the repair of damaged pipelines and the exploitation of newly discovered offshore oil fields in the Persian Gulf. By 1999 Iranís annual oil production was 1.3 billion barrels; two-thirds was exported. Iran also has the world's second largest reserves of natural gas; these are exploited primarily for domestic use.

Although the petroleum industry provides the majority of economic revenues, about 75 percent of all mining sector employees work in mines producing minerals other than oil and natural gas. These include coal, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromium, barite, salt, gypsum, molybdenum, mica, silica, talc, uranium, and gold. The mines at Sar Cheshmeh in Kerman Province contain the world's second largest lode of copper ore. Large iron ore deposits lie in central Iran, near Bafq, Yazd, and Kerman.

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