Ivanhoe Mines founder sees a bright future for global mining sector

January 19, 2021

Robert Friedland, the founder and executive co-chairman of Ivanhoe Minerals was the keynote speaker for the Association of Mineral Exploration’s virtual conference. He spoke about the importance of environmental, societal and government (ESG) issues, increasing demand for battery minerals for the green economy, the importance of junior mining companies and how his company “has been taking a hard look at projects in those states in the United States where we think we can get a social license to mine."

During a pre-recorded talk, Friedland expressed optimism that the mining industry will experience a boom in coming months and years as the demand for copper and other critical minerals rises as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Countries around the world are moving toward cleaner, carbon-free economies that depend on green electrification. These new economies will need massive amounts of certain metals. Friedland said many governments and businesses are just beginning to realize the demand that will be coming.

Friedland said he expects that focus to intensify between 2023-2025 and involve between $50 trillion and $100 trillion in investment.

One of the companies that is investing heavily in clean technology is Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a clean tech fund that is backed by the likes of billionaires Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. That fund announced that has raised $1 billion for a second time to invest in start up companies that will help cut global emissions.

BEV’s scope is broad, it is mostly focused on “clean” products and technologies, such as greener steel and cement, long-haul transport and energy storage.

The “green new deal” will inevitably require Canadian miners and most importantly, junior miners, Friedland said.

“It’s a deepest honor to talk to explorationists, because in our world, the geologists are the gods,” he said. “In our world, that’s where it all comes from. There’s more wealth created in the discovery than sitting there tweaking those little dials for 40 years and actually mining.”

As long as mining companies can negotiate the permission of Indigenous communities, “the original, Aboriginal owners of that land,” Friedland sees it as possible to advance mining in B.C.

“You are going to be able to find more (exploration) money in the next few years than you were able to in the past,” Friedland said, “and that’s good for all of us.”

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