LOVE him or hate him, Robert Friedland – arguably the world’s most famous mining entrepreneur – is on a roll again. He has long extolled the virtues of the metals he mines and their crucial role in the modern world. In the case of copper, nickel and cobalt, the current trends in the development and production of electric-powered vehicles look to be proving him right yet again. While the outlook still remains grim for his other key metal – platinum – Friedland is biting the bullet and delivering on his plans to build the Platreef mine in South Africa. This is at a time when most of the South African platinum industry is cutting output. Shaft-sinking at the Platreef is now well underway and first production is expected in 2022. The first phase of the mine is forecast to produce 476,000 oz of platinum group metals (PGMs) annually at a total capital cost of $1.5bn, of which Friedland intends funding $1bn through debt. That’s just the start of it. Friedland reckons the mine will be the lowest cash-cost operator in the industry and eventually expand to become the world’s biggest PGM mine. The man does not mess around.
LIFE OF ROBERT
He obtained a BA in political science from Reed College, after which he studied Sanskrit and Buddhism in India. His career in mining is the stuff of legend and he has so far hit it big twice – at Voisey’s Bay in Canada and Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia. He is a superb speaker and it is always standing room only during his presentations. He dislikes the media – almost never giving interviews – and the media often reciprocates. In July last year, Ivanhoe blasted Bloomberg for erroneous and misleading reporting on its operations in the DRC.
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