EghtesadOnline: National Iranian Copper Industries Company and its subsidiaries, including Sungun Complex, Miduk Complex and Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex produced an aggregate of 991,144 tons of copper concentrate during the first 10 months of the current Iranian year (March 21, 2019-Jan. 20), to register a 1% decline in output compared with last year’s similar period.
Production in the month ending Jan. 20 stood at 100,797 tons going down 3% year-on-year, the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization’s latest report shows.
An aggregate of 246,759 tons of copper anode were produced during the period under review, down 4% YOY, according to Financial Tribune.
Copper anode production during the 10th month stood at 20,953 tons, down 28% YOY.
The production of copper cathode amounted to 205,385 tons during the 10 months, up by 3% YOY.
Copper cathode output during the 10th month reached 15,702 tons, going down by 25% YOY.
A total of 6,917 tons of molybdenum were produced during the period, which indicates a 19% increase YOY, while molybdenum output totaled 721 tons, up by 11% 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 copper producer in the world,” Managing Director of the National Iranian Copper Industries Company Ardeshir Sa'd-Mohammadi said, adding that with the development of mineral explorations, the country will soon ascend to seventh place.
Copper Reserves, Production, Export
According to the official, Iran’s copper reserves constitute 4.15% of the global copper reserves, Fars News Agency reported.
Iran's 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 mineral output.
He said 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—two times more than the current capacity—by the end of the current fiscal year (March 2020).
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 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 (March 19, 2020).
Exports of copper and downstream products in the last Iranian year (ended March 20) 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.
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 NICICO.
On July 03, 1972, Kerman 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 Azarbaijan are among 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 mining and production of the precious metal in the northwestern province of East Azarbaijan.
According to the NICICO chief, around $1 billion have already been invested in the mining and production of copper in the East Azarbaijan Province—a center of industry and business 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 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 around 150 kilometers from the provincial capital of Tabriz, Iran’s sixth largest city.
Sa’d-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 arising from electrification in the automotive industry.
The senior industrialist said 20 kilograms of copper are used in the production of normal cars, adding that the figure increases fourfold to 80 kilograms in electric vehicles.
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.