Lead and zinc status in Iran
Pb, lead in English, ???? in Arabic, Sorviya or Sorveh in Avesta and Sorb in Pahlavi. Lead is among the oldest metals applied by human. Most of mining activities in the ancient Pb-Zn mines of Iran were for extraction of lead. There are many old workings such as tunnels, wells, slag and mining tools. Available stone tools in these mines confirmed the ancient nature of them. Nearly, all of Iran's active lead-zinc mines have old workings (Shaddadi mining). The ancient mining often appeared as excavated tunnels from which the ore mineral has been extracted until the vein is finished or reach to the groundwater table. Rarely, the excavation depth reaches to 90m. These mines had natural ventilation and the ore mineral was transported by shoulder in the mine, bag and rope in the wells and pack animal out of mines. Ore dressing was manual using pail and bin.
Lead mining history comes back to 3000 BC in Iran, when the major production was from the carbonate lead ores because of easier smelting than sulfate minerals. Before Islamic period, lead was used as a building material in bridges, dams and structures. Additional it was used in some dishes. The famous orientalist, Crishman wrote that in the Iranian territory of the Seleucids Empire, the exploitation and export of iron, lead and copper increased under the authority of the empire officials.
Lead had many applications in the Kimia. Lead compounds were used as pigments and pharmaceuticals. In the Islamic period, exploitation of lead mines was done for silver production. In most of books, lead mines were equivalent to the silver mines.
So far, about 600 Pb deposits and indications have been indentified in Iran some of which are among the largest Pb-Zn deposits in the world. For example, from the grade viewpoint, the Anguran Pb-Zn deposit is the first rank deposit in the world, when it is the third one from the reserve aspect. Mehdiabad, Kushk and Irankuh are other examples of large lead deposits in the world.