Copper supply becoming a “national security issue”, says Ivanhoe Mines’ Robert Friedland

Robert Friedland, CEO of Ivanhoe Mines

THE supply of copper had become a national security issue, said Bloomberg News citing the views of 70-year old mining magnate, Robert Friedland, the founder and co-chairman of Ivanhoe Mines.

Friedland told the CRU World Copper Conference on Tuesday that it was “… all copper, copper, copper, copper, copper, copper” and that the world was reaping the consequence of under exploration of the metal in the last 20 or 30 years when it “wasn’t cool to mine”.

Where future supplies come from “… is going to be a matter of fervent debate” as will how to tax and regulate them, Bloomberg quoted Friedland to have said.

Copper is a vital part of green infrastructure from grids to wind turbines. Massive investments are needed to electrify economies, the newswire said. The US power grid, which “is a joke” compared with China’s, needs $10 trillion and “astronomic amounts” of the right metals to get up to scratch, said Friedland.

“In the short term, we’ve had a big rise in the price of copper,” Bloomberg cited Friedland to have said. “But for the medium term, copper has really become a national security issue. It’s central for what we want to do with our economy.”

Friedland’s comments are in line with bullish analysts such as Goldman Sachs Group’s Nicholas Snowdon, who predicts record-high prices as the metal heads toward the tightest conditions since the mid-2000s, said Bloomberg News.

Ivanhoe Mines has a joint stake in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kamoa-Kakula copper project which is due to produce its first metal in the third quarter of this year. The mine has a pre-production ore stockpile of 803,000 tons and is scoped to produce up to six million tons a year of copper.