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Iran is the leading copper producer in the Middle East and North Africa region, as it holds close to 14% of Asia’s copper deposits and about 3% of global reserves.
Iran is the leading copper producer in the Middle East and North Africa region, as it holds close to 14% of Asia’s copper deposits and about 3% of global reserves.

Alarm Over Copper Depletion

Iran does not hold substantial, world-class mineral reserves and its established mines may be depleted in about 30 years

Alarm Over Copper Depletion

Contrary to the great expectations concerning the copper industry’s potentials, mineral exploration initiatives undertaken by the government have so far borne no fruit.
According to the head of Iran’s largest copper company, Iran does not hold substantial, world-class mineral reserves and its established mines may be depleted in about 30 years.
“National Iranian Copper Industries Company’s mineral explorations account for half of all the exploration projects implemented across the country. Taking into account projects undertaken by Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, the Geological Survey of Iran and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, it can be said that there are no more copper mines,” ISNA quoted the NICICO chief, Ahmad Moradalizadeh, as saying.
Iran is the leading copper producer in the Middle East and North Africa region, as it holds close to 14% of Asia’s copper deposits and about 3% of global reserves. The country holds about 4 billion tons of estimated reserves, according to the Geological Survey of Iran.
The global copper spot price stood at its peak of $10,000 per ton in 2011, but the mineral’s fortunes dwindled over a global oversupply as prices gradually dropped over a five-year period to $4,750 per ton, according to statistics by London Metal Exchange.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. forecasts the price may slump even further to $4,000 over 12 months as mine supply picks up, producers enjoy lower costs and demand growth slips.
Dismissing the pundits’ great expectations for copper as “far-fetched”, Moradalizadeh said a realistic vision for Iran is to sustain the annual production of 400,000 to 450,000 tons of copper over a 20-30-year period.
This is while based on the goals envisioned in the 20-Year Vision Plan (2005-25), copper cathode output is stipulated to reach 800,000 tons per year. This requires an average annual growth rate of 14% starting in 2015, which indicates a sevenfold increase compared with 2% registered in the previous decade.
In 2015, NICICO’s subsidiaries, including Sarcheshmeh, Sungun and Miduk copper complexes, increased the production of copper concentrate by 23.1% to 979,650 tons and copper anode by 0.5% to 232,950 tons. However, copper extraction dropped by about 1% for the period and stood close to 160 million tons.
This year has also fared no better for the three mines, as their extraction in the first five months of the current Iranian year (started March 20) shrank 7.1% to reach 64.4 million tons.
NICICO is the leading producer of copper in Iran, operating the three aforementioned mines, whose combined reserves (proven, probable and possible) have been estimated at 3.4 billion tons of ore with an average of 0.6% copper content.

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