Metals News: Ahmad Morad-Alizadeh who was in charge of the National Iranian Copper Industries Company and was hailed as a successful director, was reinstated under the Rouhani government and this time too he proved to be a brilliant manager.

Performance of Morad-Alizadeh in company output indicates his experience and commitment. During this period, in addition to improving the methods and reducing direct and overhead costs, he has registered a growth rate of 26 percent in extraction of sulfuric stone and 5 percent in total extraction.

Production of copper concentrate has made a growth of 37 percent and extraction of concentrate rich copper made 38 percent growth. Meanwhile, production of cathode copper made a growth of 4 percent and of mineral rich copper 34 percent.


One of the main objectives of the NICICO since 1392 (2013/14) has been paying attention to sustainable development and safeguarding mines through adoption of new policies and methods of extracting copper ore from the heart of the nature. At present with the drop in copper alloy mines grade, any full alloy of copper is prevented in order to save the copper industry for the generations to come.

During the past six years the price of copper on world markets took a downward trend and resulted in falling revenues of copper companies. The sanctions in turn resulted in revenue cuts and increase in costs. Therefore, the principle of competitiveness and relative advantage is highly important at this time.

With the opportunities provided in the post-sanctions era and changes made in the NICICO management team the company succeeded in changing the trend of its movements and repaid over $42 million of its debts by the first half of 1395 (2016/17).

With regard to the market situation, such an important task could be done only through increasing productivity and reducing finished costs. Morad-Alizadeh put preservation of the human capital and work force on his agenda and had no plan to downsize the company. Therefore, he mobilized all the company potentials for increasing productivity and reducing unnecessary costs. The company was successful in reducing over 13 percent of the finished cost of the copper concentrate between 1393 (2014/15) and 1394 (2015/16) and lower it from 111 to 96 ton/million rials. In continuation of this trend up to the end of the first half of 1395 (2016/17), this figure decreased by 24 percent and dropped from 96 to 73 ton/million rials.

In addition, the finished cost of cathode copper from 1393 (2014/15) to 1394 (2015/16) decreased from 155 to 146 ton/million rials. As of 1394 (up to the end of the first half of 1395, this figure decreased by 14 percent and dropped from 146 to 126 ton/million rials).

These measures caused the company to maintain its competitive potential and control over its share in the international markets. The major cost reduction has been through lowering costs of energy, repair, and purchase of equipment, materials and parts, and modification of production schedule. In this period with the implementation of productivity projects for energy, gas consumption – water and electricity had remarkable cuts, which was the basis for the drop in finished costs.


Since 1392 (2013/14) up to the present the required geological studies and alterations at different scales were conducted in the provinces of Yazd, Kerman, South Khorasan, Sistan-Baluchestan, Khorasan Razavi, Isfahan and East Azarbaijan.

After revision in the development projects and examining the exploration situation as well as the measures taken in those years, it was realized that enough excavations have been made in active mines, new and promising regions. Also, for continuation of excavation activities follow-up and area studies in new regions are needed to find new promising lands.

Meanwhile, in the section of mines development exploration, the mines which were expected to provide the required feed for condensation plants such as Nuchon, Songoon 3, Masjed Daghi, Haft Cheshmeh, etc., exploration has been conducted at a very low level and these mines had either no reliable reserve and acceptable alloy or no complementary explorations had been made for them but different factories had made orders to the foreign side. Therefore, the company strategy with respect to all the economic parameters and the previously conducted drillings was directed towards regional exploration; follow up exploration and surface exploration as well as drilling operations in different areas of active mines and new promising areas.

According to the new exploration strategy, concentration on exploration activities is based on regional follow-up exploration, surface activities including preparation of geological, geochemistry and geophysics land and aerial maps by using new exploratory technologies in line with finding promising regions with an aim to explore on concealed ore deposits, exotic and skarn deposits and diversification of target mineral substances of copper, gold, molybdenum, line, etc. types.

In this regard, follow-up studies have been conducted in the provinces of East Azerbaijan and Kerman in an area of more than 9000 square meters since 1394 (2015/16). Plans are on the agenda of the exploration department for conducting regional follow-up studies in south of Kerman Province, Semnan, West Azarbaijan and South Khorasan in an area of approximately 12000 square kilometers. Also, planning in the area of conducting basic geophysical studies (airborne) in an area of 17000 square kilometers is in progress. In line with implementing new explorations with an approach of concealed exploration, the National Iranian Copper Industries Company with the cooperation of each of the following companies has forged separate joint ventures:

1- Georgian I.M.B Company

2- JOGMEC Company of Japan

3- British-Canadian International Company Reservoir

4- Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman and UBS University of Canada (for Southeast region)

5- University of Tabriz and UBS University of Canada (for Northwest regions)

The policy of the company is application of the latest world technology and concentrating on exploration of concealed deposits.

Revision of Development Projects

The National Iranian Copper Industries Company in line with the policies on copper production in the Fifth Development Plan (2005/06 – 2013/14) took measures for the definition and implementation of 36 projects in mining, melting, refining and other sectors. The ultimate goal has been creation of development capacity on the basis of economic capacity of the melting units. Based on the experiences of the new team and with the observation of technical, economic and environmental problems, six projects were halted, three projects were obliged to conduct complete technical and economic studies, nine projects received notifications to change execution method and process and 18 projects were put in priority list. The management of these projects thus prevented losses and wastage of company resources.

The National Iranian Copper Industries Company in 1394 (2015/16) opened the two large projects of condensation of the second phase of Songoon Copper and condensation of the second phase of Sarcheshmeh Copper. The first phase of Khatounabad refinery and development of Sarcheshmeh melting will become operational by the end of 1395 (2016/17). The investment for the projects amounts to 23130 billion rials. Meanwhile, the total investment figure for the mentioned projects and other 18 prioritized plans of the NICIC is over 150170 billion rials.

The amount of capital required by the company after revision in development projects for realization of the targets in 1400 (2021/22), is 60000 billion rials which should be financed by resources out of the company.

Latest Status of NICIC Projects



Operation year

Total investment


Development of Sarcheshmeh Melting

1395 (2016/17)



Infrastructure of Sarcheshmeh condensation factories 

1397 (2018/19)



Construction of Kerman acid factories

1396 (2017/18)



Construction of Khatounabad refinery factory

1395 (2016/17)



Darrehzar mine and condensation factory project

1398 (2019/20)



Khatounabad melting development project

1398 (2019/20)



Songoon heap leaching

1398 (2019/20)



Songoon hydrometallurgy (leaching concentrate)

1398 (2019/20)



Chehel Koureh Zahedan mine and condensation factory project

1395 (2016/17)



Dar Alou mine and condensation factory project

1398 (2019/20)



Chah Firouzeh mine and condensation factory project

1398 (2019/20)



Taft copper mine project

1399 (2020/21)



Combined cycle power plant

1396 (2017/18)



Sarcheshmeh overhead flotation

1398 (2019/20)



Sarcheshmeh chemical fertilizer

1398 (2019/20)



Comprehensive water project

1398 (2019/20)



Comprehensive electricity project

1398 (2019/20)



Sarcheshmeh mine development project

1397 (2018/19)


 Total in billion rials (one euro = 40000 rials)





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