Economy, Business And Markets

NICICO Open to Int’l Investment in 16 Projects

NICICO Open to Int’l Investment in 16 Projects NICICO Open to Int’l Investment in 16 Projects

Following the removal of sweeping trade sanctions against Iran, National Iranian Copper Industries Company is open to international investment, according to NICICO’s planning and supervision manager.

“NICICO is keen to attract outside investment in the 16 expansion projects it has in the pipeline, particularly from investors in North America and Europe,” Saad Abdi told delegates at the 29th Metal Bulletin International Copper Conference in Lisbon on March 9, Metal Bulletin reported on its website.

“After the sanctions are removed, the door is open, you can come,” Abdi said.

Already, NICICO has signed a $1.1 billion agreement with Mansfelder Kupfer und Messing covering the supply of 70,000-tpy of copper cathode to the German company and the joint development of downstream copper fabrication capacity in Iran.

“NICICO produced 251,000 tons of copper-in-concentrate in 2015 and is aiming to boost output to 420,000 tpy by 2020 at a planned cost of €3 billion,” Abdi said.

NICICO originally planned to boost production to 700,000 tpy, but the company has scaled back its expansion plans in response to weak market conditions.

“Opportunities for investment could be larger in future years, as the company may resume the development of other greenfield assets in its portfolio as and when market conditions improve,” Abdi said.

“While outright copper prices are unfavorable, the company is also being affected by high domestic treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) for copper concentrates.”

Local processing charges are higher than they are in the international market, because of high labor costs in the domestic smelting and refining industry and, as a result, NICICO exports about 40% of the concentrates it produces, rather than processing the feed internally.

“Of the 251,000 tons of mined copper produced in 2015, 185,000 tons were processed into cathode and the remainder was exported in concentrate,” Abdi said.

“Once its expansion is completed in 2020, the company will produce about 300,000 tpy of cathode from 420,000 tpy of mined copper.”