Economy, Business And Markets

Copper Industry Development Plans

Copper Industry Development Plans
Copper Industry Development Plans

The biggest challenge the copper industry faces is implementing its development plans in time. During the past few years numerous plans were approved by the previous government, but they are unlikely to be implemented, Babak Babaei, exploration and development engineering manager at NICICO, told the Financial Tribune.

Babaei added that such development plans are now prioritized and the urgent plans, which could soon lead to production, will be implemented first. Development plans are often very costly before they are utilized.

The National Iranian Copper Industries Company is the main enterprise responsible for exploring, extracting, and processing the strategic metal.

The major copper mines in the country include Sarcheshmeh, Songoon, and Meidook, which are owned and operated by NICICO, with the latter being the first copper cathodes plant to have been built outside the Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The country is rich in copper reserves with 19.5 million tons of proven so far. This is while Iran produces only 1% of the world’s copper. Experts believe the country has enough potential to increase production.

Since President Hassan Rouhani took office last summer, many development plans, which had been approved without considering the huge costs, were abandoned. The incumbent administration has stressed that out of some 3,000 unfinished development projects; only those with more than 80% of progress will be completed.

The medium-term goals of the copper industry are being revised and a more feasible target for the year 2020 is being prepared.

The NICICO official said the company is expected to be more active in the mercantile exchange, however, he added that the new development plans would definitely help NICICO have higher participation at Iran Mercantile Exchange (IME).

The company’s development plans are said to be a good opportunity for foreign and Iranian investors, as all the technical and economic considerations as well as the payback period have been carefully taken into account.

Due to an interim deal reached last year between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, Western sanctions against Iran were partially eased, leaving room for foreign investors and entrepreneurs to get closer to the Iranian market. Since then, dozens of commercial delegations from around the world have rushed to start preliminary negotiations with Iranian officials to start official trade after the probable full removal of sanctions.

Babaei said the copper industry is not an exception and that the NICICO, as the major state copper producer, has received cooperation proposals for exploration projects as well as development plans.

Officials at the industry, mines, and trade ministry insist that involvement of foreign companies in Iran’s industrial and commercial sector should lead to transfer of technology and expertise.