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EghtesadOnline: The National Iranian Copper Industries Company's sales stood at 64.17 trillion rials ($276 million) in the first quarter of the current Iranian year (March 20-June 20), according to the company’s managing director.

“The figure indicates a 13.14 trillion-rial [$56.63 million] or 25.7% rise compared with the corresponding period of last year,” Ardeshir Sa'd-Mohammadi was also quoted as saying by ILNA.

He added that NICICO’s sales during the third month of the year (May 21-June 20) stood at 29.83 trillion rials ($128.5 million).

According to Sa’d-Mohammadi, the giant producer’s net income from copper sales stood at 34.78 trillion rials ($150 million) in Q1, which indicate a year-on-year rise of 11%.

NICICO is a leading copper producer in the Middle East and North Africa region and its mines hold close to 14% of Asia’s copper deposits and 3% of global reserves.

The company's sales totaled a record high of 227 trillion rials ($978 million) in the last fiscal year that ended on March 19, 2020, to witness a staggering rise of 127% compared to the year before.

According to Sa'd-Mohammadi, the company’s domestic sales accounted for 110 billion rials ($474,000) of the total sum and the rest pertained to exports.

He noted that both earnings from exports and domestic sales registered all-time highs, 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—also an all-time high.

Copper and its downstream products’ imports stood at 1,870 tons worth $17.42 million last year, indicating a 93.3% and 90.7% decline in tonnage and value respectively YOY. These constituted the third major mineral commodity on the list of the country’s mineral trade.

*** Copper Turnover

Describing the volume of last year's sales as a milestone in the 48-year history of the company, Mohammad Aqajanlou, an 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%.

He added 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 instead of 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.

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 operations of copper mines in the country. 

The functions of this company include among others: To extract and operate mines of copper; to produce high-grade 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, according to the company's website.


*** Copper Ore Extraction Capacity at 35m Tons p.a.

Sa’d-Mohammadi noted that following extensive explorations over the past 15 months, Iran's copper ore extraction capacity now stands at 35.5 million tons per year—the seventh biggest in the world.

The ranking was eighth in the last fiscal year (March 2019-20) and ninth in the year before, he added.

NICICO and its subsidiaries conducted about 63,000 meters of deep explorations in the last fiscal year. 

Sa’d-Mohammadi says the company plans to carry out 100,000 meters of deep explorations in the current Iranian year, of which 15,649 meters were realized during the first three months of the year (March 20-June 20).

He noted that NICICO’s combined potential and proven reserves currently stand at over 6.8 billion tons.

Four new copper ore mines are expected to become operational in the near future and add 148,000 tons to NICICO’s total annual output.

NICICO and its subsidiaries, including Sungun Complex, Miduk Complex and Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex, produced an aggregate of 310,076 tons of copper concentrate in Q1 to register a 3% growth compared with last year’s similar period.

According to data released by Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, the output during the month to June 20 stood at 100,626 to register a year-on-year rise of 5%. 

An aggregate of 91,550 tons of copper anode were produced during the three months under review, up 2% YOY. 

Around 29,901 tons of copper anode were produced in the month ending June 20, down 5% YOY.

Production of copper cathode hit 69,008 tons during the three months, up 2% YOY.

Around 25,830 tons of copper cathode were produced during May 20-June 20, up 16% YOY.

Sulfide ore extraction during the three months stood at 13.85 million tons, up 2% YOY. The figure for the month to June 20 amounted to 4.66 million tons, showing a 16% hike YOY. 

A total of 2,022 tons of molybdenum were produced during the three-month period, which indicates a 5% YOY decrease.

Molybdenum output in the month ending June 20 amounted to 653 tons, down 4% YOY.

According to the NICICO chief, 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 at least last for the next 100 years.


*** Smelting Capacity Boosted to 400,000 Tons p.a.

Four development projects related to copper industry were inaugurated in Kerman Province by President Hassan Rouhani on May 7.

A total of 2.21 trillion rials ($9.5 million) have been invested in these projects, which are said to have created more than 200 jobs. 

Located in the southern province's Shahr-e Babak County, the 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 sulfur acid plant has the capacity to produce around 600,000 tons per year while the oxygen plant has the capacity to produce 440 tons per day. 

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.


Iran NICICO sales Managing Copper Industries