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In depth: Ivanhoe Mines’ brilliant strategy

Commodity prices at present are weak and this includes copper. Regardless, the long-term prospect for the metal remains high and Friedland explains why.

TSX-listed mining company Ivanhoe Mines has taken a strategically brilliant approach to the

The Kamoa project will provide significant volumes of copper once developed
The Kamoa project will provide significant volumes of copper once developed

commodities and projects it is investing in – specifically copper and zinc in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in addition to PGMs in South Africa. It is the growing population which is urbanising, their future needs and the future needs of the planet that is driving the company’s project development focus, CEO Robert Friedland outlined at last month’s Mining Indaba in Cape Town. Laura Cornish reports.

“A typical American, in [our] lifetime, with current technology, will consume 971 pounds (440 kg) of copper and 521 pounds (236 kg) of zinc as well as salts, gravels, phosphate, natural gas, etc.,” says Friedland. According to the United Nations there are going to be nine billion people on this planet, “all who deserve a bright future. This also means they are each going to consume about 971 pounds of copper and 521 pounds of zinc. The African continent will play an enormously important role in supplying these materials in the future.”

The growing need for copper

And the relevance of copper to daily society living requirements is growing further. Not only is it used in electric cars, a segment within the automobile industry which is gaining momentum, it has also become recognised for its ability to eliminate 99% of all living bacteria and viruses. At the heart of electric car technology is the lithium battery, Friedland points out, and approximately 75% – 80% of the weight of a lithium battery is copper. “The intensity of copper demand if we move more towards electric cars is therefore very important.”

Copper has also become known as the friendly-green bug fighter, the CEO continues and adds: “The last place you want to go when you get sick is a hospital. Bugs in hospitals cannot be treated with antibiotics that have been used for the last…

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