Situated in the picturesque pastures near the villages of Agh-Darreh Alia, Agh-Darreh Sefeli, and Agh-Darreh Vasati, the Agh-Darreh Takab gold mine stands as Iran’s first active gold mining company, managed by the Puyazarkan Agh-Darreh Mining Company (Private Share). Since its commencement in 2003, the mine has annually extracted over 2 million tons of gold ore from a site located 25 km away from Takab city, while its headquarters remain in Tehran.

Originally explored during the Pahlavi regime by the German Minperk company, the mine’s ownership transfer to the Puyazarkan Agh-Darreh company remains unclear. Unfortunately, initial exploration efforts were abandoned due to the discovery of a significant amount of mercury. Moreover, a legal case related to a 44 billion toman violation concerning the destruction of the mine’s natural resources has been examined in provincial courts since 2014, but a final verdict is still pending.

Despite being a source of wealth, the Agh-Darreh Takab gold mine has not brought prosperity to the local community. Instead, the people endure the destruction of gardens, agricultural lands, natural springs, and transportation routes. The continuous sound of massive explosions disrupts their sleep, creating a distressing environment. To exacerbate the situation, most mine workers are not locals, leading to increased unemployment and poverty in the region with little hope for justice.

The workers in the mine only work for six-month cycles every year, causing further economic challenges. The company announces layoffs in the cold season, ostensibly due to weather conditions, but this practice seems unjust and economically detrimental to the workers.

The mine managers receive substantial monthly salaries while the workers struggle to make ends meet, denied job security and full employment benefits. The company seems to employ deceitful tactics to avoid fair compensation, resulting in persistent poverty among experienced workers and adverse effects on the region’s employment and economic stability.

Supervision over the mine’s operation and management in Takab appears inadequate, as inspections are conducted by the same provincial and city officials, possibly leading to biased outcomes and perpetuating injustice.

The village of Agh in the middle of the valley faces various problems, including a lack of commuting services, leading to school dropouts, especially among girls. Despite the abundant wealth in Takab City, its people do not seem to benefit from it, leaving students without necessary support for education. The fact that students have to pay for their heating fuel in schools is both puzzling and unjust.

Despite contributing 40% of Iran’s annual gold production, the Agh-Darreh and Zarshouran gold mines have not alleviated poverty in Takab, making it one of the country’s poorest cities and among the 31 least developed ones.

The people of Takab have not reaped the benefits of the gold extracted from their region. Instead, they suffer from severe environmental pollution that endangers their health and local ecosystems.

A parliamentary investigation report highlights that Puyazarkan allegedly bribed government and security centers in Takab and West Azerbaijan, disregarding environmental considerations due to the influence of its owners in the government and the IRGC.

Similar environmental concerns have arisen on a larger scale in the Zarshouran mine, located 35 km from Takab. Non-compliance with ecological requirements has resulted in cyanide leakage, posing a severe threat to the area’s living organisms.

Notably, Iran’s gold mines in seven provinces have been handed over to China and Russia under long-term 25-year contracts by the Islamic Republic. This has led to concerns about the exploitation of resources and the well-being of the local communities living near these mines.