Mineral resources in Armenia are concentrated in the southern region, where several operating copper and molybdenum mines were located. Armenia had been mining one-third of the former Soviet Union's (FSU) output of molybdenum (6,044 tons in 2000, up from 1,800 in 1997). Copper mines were located at Kapan, Kadzharan, Agarak, Shamlugh, and Akht'ala; the latter two were not in operation in 2000. Kadzharan and Agarak also had molybdenum mines. Despite relative proximity to rail and port facilities that supplied European markets, the mineral sector's ability to compete on the world market was inhibited by infrastructure problems. Perlite was mined southeast of Yerevan; Armenia was the FSU's largest perlite producer in 2000, producing 35,000 tons.
In 2000, Armenia produced industrial minerals such as clays, diatomite, dimension stone, limestone (1.7 million tons), salt (30,000 tons), and semiprecious stones. It mined copper (14,000 tons copper concentrate), copper-zinc, and native gold deposits. The Zod and Megradzor gold mines ceased operations in 1997. The government hoped to revive the gold industry through the recovery of gold tailings at the Cuarat gold mill. Significant byproduct constituents in the nonferrous ores in 2000 included barite, gold (estimated 400 kg, down from 2,000 in 1991), lead, rhenium, selenium, silver (1,300 kg), tellurium, and zinc.
Armenia reported a 66% increase in mining and metallurgical output between 1994 and 1995, reversing the trend in which production of all mineral commodities had fallen since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. The rise in mineral production was partly attributed to shipments from Iran of chemicals necessary to produce copper and molybdenum concentrates. In 1996, minerals and mineral products were Armenia's main export commodities. In 1995, the country started attracting foreign investment in its mineral industry by collecting open bids for the rights to mine 33 deposits, including deposits of gold; ferrous and non-ferrous metals; perlite; semiprecious, decorative, and facing stones; tuffs; and zeolite.