Iran is opening up $29b worth of mining projects to foreign investors promising to generate more revenue than crude, Bloomberg quoted Mojtaba Khosrowtaj, the first Iranian Deputy Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade as saying.

According to Khosrowtaj, the metals sector’s outlooks rest on recent discovery of 37b metric tons of minerals explored at 50 meters (164 feet) underground, estimated at $700b, with prospects for possible larger scale reserves.

Iran is the largest producer of iron ore, crude steel, manganese, lead, cement gypsum and copper in the region, as USGS data indicated.

Deputy Minister envisions an expansion of construction projects in mining using new technologies, instead of the current equipment developed 15 or 20 years ago, once the sanctions are lifted.

The Iran of the future is one where mining can gradually start replacing oil,” Khosrowtaj added.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia considers lifting the 2008 export ban on cement and steel due to its domestic oversupply and increased steel stocks prompting local factories to cut production by 50 %, Gulf News reported.