Development projects worth 600 million euros are underway in Sungun Copper Mine in the northwestern province of East Azarbaijan, announced the minister of industry, mine and trade on Saturday.
Reza Rahmani said that the mine enjoys three billion tons of copper reserves and €600 million of investment are underway in the framework of foreign finance and domestic resources, imidro.gov.ir reported.
According to Iranian Mines & Mining Industries Development & Renovation Organization (IMIDRO), the National Iranian Copper Industries Company (NICICO) produced over 31,000 tons of anode copper from May 22 to June 21, announced Ardeshir Sa’d-Mohammadi, the managing director of the company on July 1.
He said that during the period Iranian companies produced 31,259 tons of anode copper.
Production of copper cathode during the period reached 22,328 tons, which is higher than the targeted 18,611 tons.
NICICO announced in May 2018 that Iran has planned to rank among the top 10 copper cathode producers in the world by 2025.
In 2025, Iran’s copper cathode production capacity will reach 655,000 tons.
Iran’s copper reserves stand at 21 million tons, which is 1.3 percent of the global total.
NICICO’s copper concentrate production capacity is currently over 1.2 million tons per year and, based on the 2025 development plan, this figure is set to reach 2.5 million tons.
At present, six copper mines are operating in the country.
Bahram Shakouri, a member of Iran’s Copper Association, said that the country exported more than $1 billion worth of copper cathode, a basic product widely used in various industries, in the year to March 2019.
Shakouri said US 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.
He said China is currently Iran’s main copper customer, adding that exports to other destinations are carried out via third countries.
“Generally, the sanctions have failed to significantly impact [Iran’s] mineral industries as it is impossible to determine to which country a mineral product belongs,” Shakouri said.
“Exports can easily be carried out via a third country while our copper is equivalent to that of Chile and Mexico in terms of purity, and it is difficult to spot any difference,” he added.
Shakouri said Iran currently exports over 70 percent of its copper production, adding that the value of the country’s exports can reach a target of $5 billion if small mines across Iran become operational and the country increases its concentrate production.
Iran produced a total of 220,000 tons of copper cathode in the 12-month period ending last March 20.
Mines across the country, including the sprawling Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex in the southeastern Kerman Province, produced more than a million tons of copper concentrate in the same period, according to recent figures provided by the Iranian government.
Shakouri added that Iran could reach a target of 450,000 tons of copper cathode production in the near future if concentrate production keeps increasing at the current pace.