MEED 100 Sector analysis: Metals & Mining

31 March 2010

Tehran’s ambitious minerals and mining programme provides a boost to Iranian firms

National Iranian Copper Industries Company’s (NICICO’s) market capitalisation has more than doubled since last year’s ranking. The company has over taken Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) – a new entrant in 2009 at 43 – climbing some 50 places to 39.

Metals and mining 
Rank 2010Rank 2009CompanyExchangeMarket Cap ($m)Share price ($)
3989National Iranian Copper Industries CompanyTehran4,443*0.77
4143Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden)Tadawul4,1564.49
4326Arab Potash Company Amman4,00047.95
5348Mobarakeh SteelTehran3,588*0.23
84naEl Ezz Aldekhela Steel AlexandriaEgypt2,191163.53
Sources: Thomson Reuters; Tehran Stock Exchange   

The increase coincides with Iran’s drive to explore its huge mineral potential. Tehran has implemented a five-year programme to increase investment in the minerals and mining sector by 17 per cent.

Iron ore and steel production in Iran is projected to be 29 million tonnes this year, but Tehran hopes to increase this to 55 million by 2025. NICICO itself is currently expanding its copper smelter located in Khatoon Abad with plans to boost capacity from 80,000 to 200,000 tonnes a year (t/y).

Market heavyweights

NICICO is the second largest company on the Tehran stock exchange after the Telecommunication Company of Iran. The third is Mobarakeh Steel, which sits at 53 in the MEED 100 list, down from 48 last year, despite seeing a modest rise in market capitalisation.

Under its five-year plan, Tehran is aiming to become the world’s fourth largest steel producer as by 2015. Mobarakeh Steel currently has a capacity of 5 million t/y, but intends to almost double it to 9 million t/y.

Maaden is also in expansion mode. The company is close to completing its $3bn phosphate and fertiliser plant in Ras al-Zour on Saudi Arabia’s Gulf coast. The new facility is on schedule to begin operations in October this year and will produce about 2.92 million t/y of granular diammonium phosphate and about 440,000 t/y of excess ammonia for exports. 

The firm is also making progress with plans to branch out into aluminium production. In December, Maaden announced it had found a new equity partner – Alcoa of the US – to develop a $10.8bn integrated aluminium complex in Ras al-Zour, after the UK/Australian Rio Tinto pulled out of the scheme a year earlier.

The project includes development of a bauxite mine with an initial capacity of 4 million t/y, a 1.8 million-t/y smelter and a hot-mill with a capacity of up to 460,000 t/y.

After a fall in the third quarter, Maaden’s fourth quarter profits last year tripled to SR342.8m ($91.4m), boosted by a cash injection of SR300m from Alcoa. With the addition of the final quarter results, Maaden’s profits almost doubled to SR404m from SR203m in 2008.

Arab Potash Company of Jordan fell 17 placed to 43, while Jordan Phosphate Mines dropped out of the list. Egypt’s El Ezz Aldekhela Steel Alexandria is a new comer to the ranking.

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