Iran has discovered a new copper deposit that is believed to be the largest such reserve in the Middle East and North Africa region.
A Monday report by the IRIB News said that the porphyry copper deposit discovered in Sarcheshmeh region in the southeastern province of Kerman contains some 3 billion metric tons of copper ore with a purity of 42%.
The newly-discovered mineral deposit covers an area of 93,000 meters, said the report, adding that exploration activities have been conducted in some 106 locations in the area.
It said a second phase of exploration would be conducted in 60 locations in an area of 80,000 meters in the same region, adding that the operation could increase the amount of porphyry copper of the deposit to 4 billion mt.
The report said the entire exploration and discovery operation in the region has relied on Iranian experts and technicians.
Porphyry deposits are large, low-grade metal ore bodies that are formed from hydrothermal fluids derived from an underlying magma reservoir.
Iran has large copper reserves in Sarcheshmeh as well as in Sungun in the northwestern Azerbaijan region near the border with Turkey.
Production of copper in Sungun, which is home to Iran’s largest open-cast cooper mine, began last week with the launch of a modern smelter in the region.
Iran has introduced massive plans to expand its mining and metals sector amid US sanctions on its direct oil exports.
Experts say copper reserves could play a major role in Iran’s future economic development plans amid a rising demand for the metal in the international markets.