EghtesadOnline: National Iranian Copper Industries Company and its subsidiaries, including Sungun Complex, Miduk Complex and Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex, produced an aggregate of 102,902 tons of copper concentrate during the first month of the current Iranian year (March 20-April 19), remaining unchanged in output compared with last year’s corresponding month.
An aggregate of 30,690 tons of copper anode were produced during the month under review, down 2% YOY, the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization’s latest report shows.
Production of copper cathode amounted to 17,959 tons during the month, down 17% YOY.
More than 12.03 million tons of copper were extracted during the month to April 19, down 21% YOY.
Sulfide ore extraction stood at 4.35 million tons, down 8% YOY.
A total of 705 tons of molybdenum were produced during the one-month period, which indicates a 2% decrease YOY.
New Copper Projects Inaugurated in South
Four development projects related to copper industry were inaugurated in Kerman Province on May 7 by President Hassan Rouhani.
A total of 2.21 trillion rials ($13 million) have been invested in these projects, which are said to have created more than 200 new jobs, IRIB News reported.
Located in the southern province's Shahr-e Babak County, the following new projects are to do with the development of Khatunabad Copper Refinery Plant: expansion of its copper anode smelting plant, a new copper concentrate storage facility, a sulfuric acid plant and an oxygen plant.
The expansion of copper anode smelting plant has entailed technology improvement and increased copper anode production by 50%, from 80,000 tons to 120,000 tons per year.
The copper concentrate storage facility has the capacity to store 60,000 tons.
The acid plant has the capacity to produce around 600,000 tons of sulfuric acid per year.
The oxygen plant has the capacity to produce 440 tons of oxygen per day.
Managing Director of the National Iranian Copper Industries Company Ardeshir Sa'd-Mohammadi told IRNA that with the new projects on stream, Iran’s copper smelting capacity will increase to 400,000 tons per year.
World's 9th Largest Reserve
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, says Sa'd-Mohammadi, adding 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 those 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.
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.
Exports of copper and downstream products in the fiscal 2019-20 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.
On July 3, 1972, Kerman Sarcheshmeh Copper Mines Company was incorporated and in 1976, it was renamed National Iranian Copper Industries Company, which encompasses all copper mine operations in the country.
The functions of this company include: To extract and operate copper mines, and to produce high-grade copper products such as cathode, slab, billet and 8-mm wires.
Among the most important copper mines of the country, one may name: Sarcheshmeh and Miduk in Kerman, and Sungun in East Azarbaijan.
NICICO Sales, Exports Hit Record Highs
The National Iranian Copper Industries Company’s sales totaled a record high of 227 trillion rials ($1.4 billion) in the last fiscal year that ended on March 19 to witness a staggering rise of 127% compared to the year before.
According Sa'd-Mohammadi, the company’s domestic sales accounted for over 110 billion rials ($687,500) of the total sum and the rest ($722 million) pertained to exports.
He noted that both earnings from exports and domestic sales registered an all-time high, ISNA reported.
The value of exports was twice that of the preceding year, he added.
"NICICO produced more than 1.18 million tons of copper concentrates last year, which is also a record high," he said.
The company also produced 250,133 tons of copper cathode during the period, which is also an all-time high.
Describing the volume of last year's sales as a milestone in the 48-year-history of the company, Mohammad Aqajanlou, a senior official with Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, said the total turnover of the Iranian copper industry exceeded $4.5 billion last year and NICICO posted a return on investment of 143%.
Aqajanlou noted that copper cathode accounted for more than two-thirds of total domestic consumption for purified copper, which was over 160,000 tons last year.
"This means copper concentrate, a relatively raw form of the metal, accounted for the bulk of Iran’s exports, which issue has faced criticism, as many believe NICICO should create more capacity for using copper concentrate inside Iran rather than shipping it in large quantities to countries like China,” he said.
Aqajanlou rejected the criticism and said the current supply and demand situation in the Iranian copper industry makes exports of concentrates more preferable.