Saeed Shahand, the head of West Azarbaijan’s Environment Protection Office said on Tuesday that the only material that exists under the lake is salt, whose mining poses no risk to the ecosystem.
There are reports that officials have intentionally neglected the lake in recent years, saying the area is a major source of lithium, a metal in high demand in the world.
Lake Urmia in Iran’s West
Azarbaijan Province, once the world’s 6th saltwater lake and the biggest of its kind in West Asia, is now on the cusp of drying up. The tragedy is blamed on a number of factors, including excessive water consumption by farmers in the region and climate change.
The rate of rainfall in the region has remarkably reduced in recent decades and the Urmia basin has experienced several multi-year droughts.