Allahverdi Dehghani, member of the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) from Varzaqan and member of the Industry and Mine Commission, criticized officials for the current situation. “Regrettably, this rich mine has become a dilemma instead of an opportunity to develop the region,” Dehghani said.
According to sources in the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), the Islamic Republic has offered the privilege of exploration and exploitation activities to Russia in return for the complete installation of the S-300 anti-aircraft system.
“There are many ambiguities and dark-points regarding the method and manner of handing over this mine to Iranian and foreign parties. It is unclear how much the Russian side exploits this mine in terms of weight and dollars,” Dehghani added.
This MP also mentioned parts of embezzlements and thefts, which is the outcome of the ayatollahs’ 41 years of corrupt rule. Several individuals, who have previously had intelligence of administrative rent, have taken Iran’s mines hostage. They possess these natural sources without enjoying adequate competence and ability for exploiting them, Dehghani explained.
These people have inked deals on paper and gained permits for exploitation while permits are not for sale and must be issued for those who have the capability to use it for work. If brokers enter mine sectors, it is impossible to benefit from mines. There are footprints of rent in the Andarian gold mine. Several people had registered the mine in their own name and paved the path for foreigners’ exploitation, Dehghani revealed.
Environmental Damages to Varzaqan Area
According to locals, the exploiter company fulfills the cyanide method for extracting gold to decrease its expenditures. The company’s managing board said this is the poorest and cheapest method for investors. However, the cyanide method pollutes underground waters in the region, increases bird mortality and air pollution, parallel to contributing to poisoning and hospitalizing some company personnel.
For several years, Andorian Gold Mine’s managing board failed to obtain a positive ecological assessment to continue its operations. In this context, the environmental organization did not issue permits for exploitation. Eventually, thanks to nepotism and systematic corruption, environmental officials acquiesced to the mine’s investors and issued required documents.
Environmental officials merely recommended constant monitoring; however, not only the supervising measures did not perform, but the mine’s managers used much more cyanide leading to the annihilation expanded parts of pastures.
“In different periods, we are controlling the mine’s waste and underground wells. If pollution is reported, we would definitely shut down the mine,” claimed Hamid Qasseimi, Director-General of East Azarbaijan Environmental Affairs.
This is while in recent months, many livestock have perished due to cyanide and many locals fell victim to various diseases. However, the director-general deliberately turns a blind eye on these calamities raising skepticism over his honesty and impartiality.
Illegal Drilling for Gold Ore
Furthermore, Varzaqan witnesses corrupt individuals illegally plundering its soil day and night. All the while, the soil of this region is trading for $16 per kilo. The gold’s high price has exaggerated this problem and locals sell gold ore to brokers and customers in different sizes. In the past year, landslides resulted in the deaths of three youths from Andarain village who were digging the mountain to earn meager money.
“It is unclear how much does the Russian side benefit from this mine in terms of weight and dollars? If extracting methods and financial issues have not been transparent, we will not only make more ambiguities but also face gold smuggling in this region,” the Varzaqan MP said.
As the ayatollahs deal with growing protests inside the country and economic pressures from abroad, they have resorted to deals with foreign governments such as China, Russia, and India to maintain their rule. In this line, they generously sell-off Iran’s natural resources to the mentioned countries while millions of Iranians live below the poverty and misery line. This has prompted public ire against the authorities even among forces loyal to supreme leader Ali Khamenei.