Copper Giant NICICO Raises the Bar

Copper Giant NICICO Raises the Bar Copper Giant NICICO Raises the Bar

Two copper ore beneficiation plants, each a 150,000-ton capacity, will be operational for processing copper from the Sarcheshmeh (in Kerman Province) and Sungun (Azerbaijan Province) mines. The two plants are expected to reach nominal capacity within three years and earn 15,000 billion rials ($450 million) managing director of National Iranian Copper Industries Company (NICICO) said.

“Jointly the two plants would increase copper concentrate production capacity by 300,000 tons. Total investment needed for the two plants is €162 million ($205m) in foreign exchange and 2,152 billion rials ($66m), Ahmed Moradalizadeh said, Fouladnews reported.

Referring to NICICO's reform plans he said the company is revising its development plans to make it economically “feasible, limit mine exploitations, secure the investments of shareholders and help protect the environment,  while keeping in mind the company's mining potential, financial prowess and basic infrastructure, in line with the prerequisites of sustainable development.”

Regarding modifications to Sungun plant sulfide smelting process, he said, "In view of the economic conditions, copper concentrate supply constraints and issues related to sulphuric acid production and supply, it was decided to switch to hydrometallurgical extraction method for producing copper cathode, which will help save €280m ($355m) in foreign exchange and 5,700 billion rials ($175m)."

So far 17 expansion plans have been undertaken by NICICO, he said, and €1.9b ($2.4b) in foreign exchange and 4,300b rials ($132m) are needed to bring the projects on stream.

Implementation of the plans would raise annual copper production capacity to 400,000 tons by 2019. Currently Iran produces 223,000 tons of copper cathodes p.a.  

According to a US executive order in June 2013, copper was included in the list of sanctioned metals which affected Iran's copper market to a large extent. Since then, Iran has sought to sell copper concentrate to India, the UAE, Turkey and Persian Gulf Arab states. Moradalizadeh noted that 6000 tons copper cathode would be exported every month in 2015 while 80,000 tons of copper concentrate is scheduled to be exported by next March.

  A New Future

In summer the NICICO outlined its strategy coinciding with the 50th anniversary of its birth.

Addressing directors and heads of Kerman's copper complexes, Moradalizadeh said,” On the eve of the fiftieth year of establishment, the company is committed to enhancing productivity and revising its organizational culture."

“How can we create a new future?” Raising this question, he said, “The path NICICO is taking after half a century of operations is summarized in our commitment to the future: enhancing productivity will play a key role in our future direction."

Referring the objectives of the company, he noted, “Elevating the company to the proper and desired status for the realization of talents, and compiling data about its managers’ abilities are among the main targets of the copper industry."

He underlined that one of the main goals in the coming years is evolution in the organizational structure, and paving the way for improving individual, group and organizational productivity. “On this path higher production will indeed be the focus of the company.”