Belarus will continue efforts this year to prepare its own resource base for steel production under a state mineral resource development program for the period to 2010, the deputy head of geology at the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry, Andrei Kovkhuto told Interfax. "This is a priority," he said, adding that the programme aims to carry out an optimal amount of exploration work, including in terms of financial resources. Two iron ore deposits have been discovered in Belarus – Okolov in the Minsk region and Novoselkov in the Grodno region – and exploration is underway to assess their reserves, Kovkhuto said. Once the commercial reserves are assessed, "it will be possible to talk about what kind of conditions are needed to develop the deposits, what method should be used to mine the iron ore and what technology to use to concentrate it," he said.