EghtesadOnline: With an annual production of 34.5 million tons, Iran is currently the world’s eighth biggest producer of copper in the world, the managing director of the National Iranian Copper Industries Company said.
Ardeshir Sa'd-Mohammadi added that with the development of mineral explorations, the country will soon ascend to the seventh rank.
According to the official, Iran’s copper reserves make up 4.15% of the global copper reserves, Fars News Agency reported.
Iran's major Sungun Copper Mine’s reserves exceed 1.2 billion tons while that of Miduk Copper Mine surpass 500 million tons, according to Financial Tribune.
According to Sa'd-Mohammadi, the copper industry has a 50-million-ton share in Iran's annual mineral output.
He says Iran’s copper production is expected to exceed 260,000 tons by the end of the current fiscal year (March 19, 2020) and will exceed 300,000 tons next year (March 2020-21).
Iran's copper smelting capacity is expected to reach 400,000 tons—double the current capacity—by the end of the current fiscal year (March 2020), he added.
Taking into account the development of copper mines of Der Alo Copper Mine, Darezar Copper Mine and Khatoonabad (all three in Kerman Province) as well as new explorations, Sa'd-Mohammadi believes the country’s copper reserves will last for the next 100 years at least.
Deputy Industries Minister Khodadad Gharibpour said $310 million worth of projects in the copper industry will have been inaugurated by the end of the current Iranian year.
Upstream Copper Output in Seven Months
National Iranian Copper Industries Company and its subsidiaries, including Sungun Complex, Miduk Complex and Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex, produced an aggregate of 691,381 tons of copper concentrate during the first seven months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Oct. 22) to register a decrease of 1% compared with last year’s similar period.
Production in the month ending Oct. 22 stood at 101,712 tons, registering a decline of 2% year-on-year, the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization’s latest report shows.
Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex had the lion’s share with 409,510 tons, remaining unchanged YOY. Sungun Complex produced 197,008 tons, down 1% YOY as Miduk Complex produced 84,863 tons to witness an 8% drop YOY.
Meanwhile, Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex and Khatoonabad Copper Refinery produced an aggregate of 182,818 tons of copper anode during the period under review, up 5% YOY. Sarcheshmeh had the biggest share with 136,571 tons, up 22% YOY. Khatoonabad produced 46,247 tons, down by 26% YOY.
Copper anode production during the seventh month stood at 19,411 tons, down 31% YOY.
Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex and Miduk Complex produced a total of 154,211 tons of copper cathode during the period, up by 13% YOY. Again, Sarcheshmeh had the largest share with 99,097 tons as Miduk produced 55,114 tons.
Copper cathode output during the seventh month reached 21,790 tons, going up by 2% YOY.
A total of 4,632 tons of molybdenum were produced by Sarcheshmeh and Sungun (3,485 and 1,147 tons respectively) during the seven-month period, which indicates a 14% increase YOY.
Molybdenum output during the month to Oct. 22 totaled 659 tons, up by 20% YOY.
Exports of copper and downstream products in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2019) stood at 365,070 tons worth about $917.53 million, down by 52% in tonnage and up by 13% in value YOY.
Copper and downstream products’ imports stood at 1,870 tons worth $17.42 million, indicating a 93.3% and 90.7% decrease in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Copper and downstream products were the third major mineral commodity on the list of the country’s mineral trade.
Five industrial and mineral projects were inaugurated at Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex located in Rafsanjan County, Kerman Province, on Nov. 12 with a total investment of 751 billion rials ($5.98 million).
Among the projects were a sulfuric acid plant that was inaugurated in the presence of Industries Minister Reza Rahmani, Sa'd-Mohammadi and other officials from Rafsanjan County.
The plant has a production capacity of 610,000 tons per year and will create 200 jobs. A total of more than 450 billion rials ($3.58 million) were invested in this plant, IRNA reported.
Rahmani told ILNA that 15 trillion rials ($119.52 million) of total investments in Kerman Province pertain to copper projects.
The ministry is pursuing plans related to copper projects in the provinces of Kerman, Yazd, East Azarbaijan, and Sistan-Baluchestan with a total investment of €2.5 billion, the minister said at the inaugural ceremony.
Aim to Capture 20% of Turkey's Copper Market
Iran is hopeful of meeting one-fifth of Turkey’s need for copper within the next two years by increasing investment in mining and production of the precious metal in its northwestern province of East Azarbaijan.
According to the NICICO chief, nearly $1 billion have already been invested in copper mining and production in the province—an industrial and business hub near the Iranian-Turkish border.
The official says investment plans were aimed at helping Iran raise its share of copper exports to Turkey, which is importing 500,000 tons of copper cathode from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan every year.
He added that main copper projects introduced in the region included a smelter, a refinery and a third phase of concentrate production at the sprawling Sungun Mine, the largest open-cast copper mine in Iran located around 150 kilometers from the provincial capital of Tabriz, Iran’s sixth largest city.
Iran is tapping into its mines and metal deposits like never before as it feels the pressure of US sanctions that have hampered its access to normal oil revenues.
This comes as the United States has specifically targeted Iran’s metal trade and production with a series of bans since May this year.
Experts believe the sanctions would fail to stifle Iran’s growth in the sector, as customers have used third countries for the import of metals from Iran.
Sa’d-Mohammadi says development of the copper industry in northwest Iran was an urgent necessity, given the rising demand for the metal in the world.
He says the European Union has identified copper as a primary field for investment mainly because of the demand that would be created as a result of electrification in the automotive industry.
The senior industrialist said a maximum of 20 kilograms of copper is used in the production of normal cars, adding that the figure increases fourfold to 80 kilograms in electric cars.
Bahram Shakouri, a member of Iran’s Copper Association, says the United States' unilateral sanctions against Iran have failed to block the export of copper from the country, adding that Iran plans to increase its annual production of copper cathode to 450,000 tons.
According to the official, sanctions imposed on Iran have only restricted the country’s ability to directly ship its copper to traditional destinations like Europe, Japan and South Korea, adding that China is currently Iran’s main copper customer, and export to other destinations is carried out via third countries.