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EghtesadOnline: National Iranian Copper Industries Company and its subsidiaries, including Sungun, Miduk and Sarcheshmeh copper complexes, produced an aggregate of 890,347 tons of copper concentrate during the first nine months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Dec. 21), posting no change in output compared with last year’s similar period.

Production in the month ending Dec. 21 stood at 98,904 tons going down 3% year-on-year, the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization’s latest report shows.

An aggregate of 225,806 tons of copper anode were produced during the period under review, down 1% year-on-year, Financial Tribune reported.

Copper anode production during the ninth month stood at 22,005 tons, down 16% YOY.

Production of copper cathode amounted to 189,683 tons during the nine months, up by 6% YOY.

Copper cathode output during the ninth month reached 15,894 tons, going down by 23% YOY.

A total of 6,196 tons of molybdenum were produced during the nine months, which indicates a 20% increase YOY.

Molybdenum output during the month to Dec. 21 totaled 771 tons, up by 52% YOY.

According to the United States Geological Survey, Iran holds the world's ninth largest copper reserves.

Iran holds about 4 billion tons of estimated copper reserves, according to the Geological Survey of Iran.

With an annual production of 34.5 million tons, Iran is currently the world’s eighth biggest producer of copper in the world, says Managing Director of the National Iranian Copper Industries Company Ardeshir Sa'd-Mohammadi, adding that with the development of mineral explorations, the country will soon ascend to the seventh rank.


Copper Reserves

According to the official, Iran’s copper reserves constitute 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 Sa'd-Mohammadi, the copper industry has a 50-million-ton share in Iran's annual minerals output.

He says Iran’s copper production is expected to exceed 260,000 tons by the end of the current fiscal year (March 19) and will exceed 300,000 tons next year (March 2020-21).

Iran's copper smelting capacity is expected to reach 400,000 tons—twice 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 Khatunabad (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.

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 (March 19, 2020).

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% decline 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.

A total of 56,000 tons of copper were exported from Iran during the first six months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Sept. 22), according to the managing director of National Iranian Copper Industries Company.

On July 3, 1972, Kerman’s Sarcheshmeh Copper Mines Company was incorporated and in 1976 it was renamed National Iranian Copper Industries Company, which encompasses all operations of copper mines in the country. The functions of this company include: To extract and operate copper mines; to produce high-grade products of ore and copper products such as cathode, slab, billet and 8-mm wires. 

Sarcheshmeh and Miduk in Kerman, and Sungun in East Azerbaijan are the most important copper mines of the country.


 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 the mining and production of the precious metal in its northwestern province of East Azarbaijan.

According to the NICICO chief, $1 billion have already been invested in copper mining and production in East Azarbaijan Province—a industrial and business hub near the Iranian-Turkish border.

Sa'd-Mohammadi said the investment plans were aimed at allowing Iran to raise its share of copper exports to Turkey which, he said, is importing 500,000 tons of copper cathode from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan every year.

He added that the 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 150 kilometers from the provincial capital of Tabriz, Iran’s sixth largest city.

Sa’ad-Mohammadi says the development of 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 the 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.

Shakouri noted that 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.


Copper Output Iran IMIDRO Copper Concentrate Upstream Sungun Miduk Sarcheshmeh