In May 2018, President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015, and reimposed Washington’s unilateral sanctions on Tehran in two phases.
Bahram Shakouri, a member of Iran’s Copper Association, said on Saturday that the country exported more than $1 billion worth of copper cathode, a basic product widely used in various industries, in the year to March 2019, Press TV reported.
Shakouri said US sanctions imposed on Iran have only restricted the country’s ability to directly ship its copper to traditional destinations like Europe, Japan and South Korea.
He said China is currently Iran’s main copper customer, adding that export to other destinations is carried out via third countries.
“Generally, the sanctions have failed to significantly impact (Iran’s) mineral industries as it is impossible to determine to which country a mineral product belongs” Shakouri told the ILNA news agency.
“Export can easily be carried out via a third country while our copper is equivalent to that of Chile and Mexico in terms of purity and it is difficult to spot any difference,” he added.
Shakouri said Iran currently exports more than 70 percent of its copper production, adding that the value of the country’s export can reach a target of $5 billion if small mines across Iran become operational and the country increases its concentrate production.
Iran produced a total of 220,000 tons of copper cathode in the 12-month period ending last March. Mines across the country, including the sprawling Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex in the southeastern Kerman Province, produced more than a million tons of copper concentrate in the same period, according to recent figures provided by the Iranian government.
Shakouri said Iran can reach a target of 450,000 tons of copper cathode production in a near future if concentrate production keeps increasing at the current pace.