minerals and materials
In 2001, Iraq produced hydraulic cement, nitrogen, phosphate rock (from the Akashat open-pit mine), salt, and native Frasch sulfur (from underground deposits at Mishraq, on the Tigris River, south of Mosul), as well as clay, gypsum, lime, limestone, industrial sand (glass or silica), sand, gravel, and stone.
In 2001, the State Organization for Minerals reported the discovery of sulfur deposits in the Western Desert, near Akashat. Production figures for 2001, in tons, were: phosphate, 100,000, down from 300,000 in 1999; sulfur, 98,000, down from 475,000 in 1996; and salt, 300,000.
Minogenic map of Iraq
Geological surveys have indicated usable deposits of iron ore, copper, gypsum, bitumen, dolomite, and marble; these resources have remained largely unexploited, because of inadequate transport facilities and lack of coal for processing the ores.
MINERAL RESOURCES OF IRAQ
Exploration for mineral resources and industrial rocks started in Iraq as early as 1930 and was continued by foreign companies until 1965, then Geological Survey of Iraq commenced a comprehensive systematic program of geological mapping and mineral exploration that covered all the Iraqi territory and was based on actual field mapping (1:100 000), exploratory drilling, geophysical and geochemical surveys. One of the main objectives achieved was the delineation of the mineral resources of Iraq. Many industrial projects were based on the results of that project including sulfur mining, phosphate fertilizer plant, glass and ceramic plants, several cement plants, constructions raw materials, etc. The Geological Survey is active now in geological mapping on more detailed scales and following up exploratory works to upgrade the resources into exploitable economic reserves. A summary of the main mineral resources of Iraq is given below:-
Native sulfur:- About 600 m.t. of proved reserves were discovered in Nineva Governorate, 60% of which is extractable by modified Frash method. Mining in MI field started in 1969 at 1 m.t./year designed production capacity. Mostly used in chemical industries and for export.
Phosphorite:- More than 10 000 m.t. of proved reserves were discovered in Akashat and surrounding areas (Anbar Governorate). Mining started in 1983 at 3.2 m.t./year designed production rate to supply the phosphate fertilizer plant at Al- Qaim.
Salt (NaCl):-About 50 m.t. of proved reserves are located at Samawa saltern (Muthana Governorate) in addition to several smaller salterns in the Jazira area. Used in chemical and petrochemical industries, as well as in food industry. Production rate about 200 000 t/year.
Glauberite:- About 22 m.t. of proved reserves are found in the Shari Saltern (Salahuldin Governorate). Used in the production of sodium sulfate. New plant is needed.
Gypsum:- More than 130 m.t. are proved in several localities of the Low-Folded Zone (Northern Zone) of Iraq. Mostly used in the production of plaster.
Limestone:- More than 8000 m.t. are proved in various parts of Iraq and are being exploited for the production of cement.
Quartz-sand:- More than 850 m.t. of proved reserves are available of almost pure quartz-sand. Presently mined from one site in Anbar Governorate and used in glass, ceramics and refractories production.
Feldspathic sand:- A small reserve (about 2 m.t.) of silica sands containing up to 20% feldspar minerals are located in Najaf Governorate. Used for ceramic industry and need a floatation plant for upgrading.
Kaolinitic claystones:- These deposits are found in several localities in Anbar Governorate with total reserves reaching up to 1200 m.t. of various grades (white and colored). Mostly used in ceramic industry, but is considered the only source in Iraq for alumina in the future.
Bentonite:- About 22 m.t. of Ca-montmorillonitic clay are found in Anbar Governorate. At present it is mainly used for oil-well drilling after on-site Na-activation. A plant for Na-activation is needed with 75000 t./year production capacity.
Ironstone:- A sedimentary pisolitic medium grade ironstone deposit is located in Anbar Governorate with about 60 m.t. of reserves. The quality and grade permit using the ore in cement industry only. A new mine is needed.
Bauxite:- Very small and scattered Karst bauxite and bauxitic claystones are found in Anbar Governorate. Locally used for refractories.
Metallic Minerals:- A few deposits of Zn-Pb-pyrite deposits are located in Kurdstan Region. Non of them is exploited. Some are associated with barite. Numerous showings of Cu, Cr-Ni, Mn-Fe and Fe are found in the igneous complexes of the Zagros Suture Zone of Kurdstan Region. All of them require more exploration work to show their economic potential.