BOLIVIA (AP) – Iran has started its first major mining operation since the end of sanctions, drilling a huge salt lake into the South American country’s salt flats.
The ministry of natural resources said on Wednesday that a team of 20 divers, who had previously been working on the same salt flats as Iran’s oil industry, had arrived in the country on Wednesday.
Iran, a country that has long faced Western sanctions, is a key buyer of oil and gas.
It is also seeking to develop its domestic industry.
Its efforts to expand its offshore gas fields are also an attempt to boost domestic production, while at the same time diversing the country’s vast oil and natural gas reserves.
The government has long pushed to expand Iran’s offshore oil and oil-rich fields, including the Gulf of Mexico, to exploit its vast gas resources.
But the country has had trouble finding offshore gas deposits and has struggled to find enough oil to fuel its economy.
In recent years, Iran has been forced to diversify away from oil production as its economy has grown and its oil revenues have dried up.
In January, Iran said it had found enough oil in its vast oil fields to produce nearly 500,000 barrels per day.