EghtesadOnline: The Second Iran Non-Ferrous Industries Market and Related Technologies Conference and Expo was hosted by Donya-e-Eqtesad Media Group, the Financial Tribune's parent company, at Tehran's IRIB Conference Center on Tuesday.
"This conference is aimed at creating national unison to come up with a clear overview of challenges as well as a common approach to devise the framework of a roadmap for non-ferrous industries," Alireza Bakhtiari, the CEO of the media group, said in an address at the opening of the event.
"The lack of a national roadmap that can act as a guide and a foundation for long-term policymaking for non-ferrous industries has been identified as a fundamental obstacle. But the more important issue to solve this shortcoming is the different approaches of the authorities, policymakers, experts and active players of this industry about the challenges facing this industry. This has made it difficult to reach a common understanding about the features of a roadmap," he added.
According to Bakhtiari, more than 50 firms, associations, specialized organizations, experts and senior managers in non-ferrous industries have attended the conference, apart from foreign experts from European and Asian countries, Financial Tribune reported.
A wide range of topics and areas related to non-ferrous industries are being discussed in the two-day event, which concludes on Wednesday, including a balance in supply chain (exploration to end product), domestic consumption, exports under sanctions, regulations, domestic laws, infrastructures, provision of capital, domestic as well as international financial transactions, localization, knowledge-based enterprises and SMEs, energy, water, environmental issues, technology and innovation, with a special focus on relations between industry and university.
Non-ferrous metals, such as copper, aluminum, lead, zinc and gold, have remained relatively underrated despite their high usage and high value-added products. Balancing production, exports and domestic consumption is one of the main challenges of non-ferrous industries, the event’s website at Events.donya-e-eqtesad.com reported.
"Today, paying attention to domestic resources is not only a priority but also a vital need on the path of the country’s development and advancement, as our enemies and rivals cause us a new crisis every day at the international level. This has drawn the attention of experts to properly use our God-given nonrenewable resources while focusing on using our full capacities, relying on up-to-date knowledge and technologies, protecting the environment, optimizing energy and making good use of realistic analyses," Bakhtiari said.
World's 8th Biggest Copper Reserves
Copper is among Iran's most notable non-ferrous industries.
Noting that Iran has the world's eighth largest copper reserves with 34.5 million tons, Ardeshir Sa'd-Mohammadi, managing director of National Iranian Copper Industries Company (NICICO), told the conference that Iran accounts for 4.15% of the world’s copper reserves, while accounting for 1.5% of the world’s copper production.
According to the official, global copper consumption grows by 2% annually.
"Global copper demand will rise by 2.5 million tons in five years. So Iran should take advantage of this opportunity to have a bigger share in international markets," he said.
China, the US and South Korea are the top consumers of copper in the world.
"We plan to invest 5.5 trillion rials [$47.82 million] in exploration to add 2 million tons to our copper reserves. We have drilled 36,000 meters during the six months to Sept. 22, while we drilled 39,000 meters last year [March 2018-19]. We plan to reach 80,000 meters of drilling by the yearend [March 2020]," Sa'd-Mohammadi said.
According to the official, NICICO extracted 94.75 million tons of copper during the six months to Sept. 22 and exported 47,000 tons of copper, while its exports during the six months amounted to 52,000 tons.
$27.3 Trillion Worth of Natural Resources
Elaborating on Iran's other non-ferrous industries, Bahram Shakouri, the head of the Mining and Mineral Industries Commission of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mining, Trade and Agriculture, told the conference that Iran’s natural resources are worth $27.3 trillion.
"Each person uses 1,400 tons of minerals during his lifetime on average, 15 tons of which are base metals. In addition, each person uses 655 kilograms of lead and zinc," he said.
According to the official, Iran is home to 12.12 million tons or 5.3% of the world’s zinc reserves, while the country has a 1.92% share in zinc extraction in the world.
Iran’s per capita zinc consumption stands at 760 grams, while the global per capita is 1.8 kilograms. Iran exports 45% of its zinc ingot production.
"Iran's lead reserves stand at 3.91 million tons, 4.7% of the world’s lead reserves, while the country has a 1.24% share in lead extraction in the world," he said.
"Iran’s per capita lead consumption is 1.1 kilograms, whereas the global consumption is 1.5 kilograms. Iran exports 26.7% of its lead output."
The Mehdiabad mine, located in Yazd Province, is the world’s second largest lead-zinc mine in the world.
Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Reza Rahmani, who also took the podium, elaborated on the ministry's agenda.
"The ministry’s policy is to avoid selling raw materials. Meeting the domestic demand is the priority," he said.
The Industries Ministry has imposed 20-25% duties on exports of unprocessed minerals as of Sept. 23.
According to Deputy Industries Minister Jafar Sarqeini, the decision is aimed at supporting domestic production, preventing the export of unprocessed minerals and generating more value-added.
Expounding on Iran's aluminum and gold reserves, the next speaker was Mohammad Abka, chairman of the board of Foolad Technic International Engineering Company.
According to the official, Iran is the world’s 21st biggest aluminum producer with 301,000 tons of output per year and ranks fifth in the Middle East.
Iran is the 20th major bauxite producer in the world with 719,000 tons of output per year, making it the third biggest in the Middle East.
Abka noted that Iran is 46th in the world in gold production with 8 tons per year and stands at third place in the Middle East.
He also noted that Iran exported 177,000 tons of aluminum, 53,000 tons of lead and 94,000 tons of zinc in 2018.
Khodadad Gharibpour, chairman of the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation, the biggest state-owned holding in the mining sector of Iran, was the last speaker to address the conference on Tuesday.
According to the official, Iran's mines and mineral industries’ exports witnessed an unprecedented growth of 33% during the first five months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Aug. 22) compared with last year’s corresponding period.
“The sector’s growth in exports usually stands at around 21%,” he said.
Mines and mineral industries’ sales amounted to 740 trillion rials ($6.43 billion) during the six months to Sept. 22, Gharibpour added.
This sector has a 36% share in Tehran Stock Exchange, according to the official.
IMIDRO is pursuing exploration plans in collaboration with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Iranian Space Agency and Geological Survey & Mineral Explorations of Iran.
A memorandum of understanding was signed on Sept. 30 in Tehran by GSI, Research Institute for Earth Sciences and Semnan University to promote joint scientific, educational and research cooperation in geological sciences and mineral explorations.
According to Gharibpour, Iran has the largest area under mineral exploration in the Middle East.
IMIDRO carried out exploration over 270,000 square kilometers during President Hassan Rouhani's first term in office (August 2013-17). It plans to cover 300,000 square kilometers of the country's explorable land for mineral explorations by the end of the current fiscal year (March 19, 2020).