CAPE TOWN (miningweekly.com) – Mining can and will deliver massive benefits if all stakeholders work together, Ivanhoe Mines executive co-chairperson and founder Robert Friedland said on Wednesday.
Speaking on the third day of the Investing in African Mining Indaba, he outlined the huge potential of collaborative government, business and labour effort in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where he is developing promising platinum and copper mining projects.
“There’s a new dawn being led by President Cyril Ramaphosa. I can feel the winds of change actually blowing,” he said of South Africa’s new political horizon.
He also spoke of the long-delayed election in the DRC at last setting a new backdrop of confidence. He also expressed confidence in new DRC president Félix Tshisekedi.
“We are committed to uplifting all of the people of South Africa and the DRC. Our governments and our shareholders and our workers will all benefit,” said Friedland, who emphasised the importance of country certainty and stability owing to the long-term nature of exploration and mining only delivering returns after billions of dollars have been invested.
“Cyril Ramaphosa is bringing winds of change, the purification of the African National Congress and the restoration of Mandela’s mission,” he said.
As the global population moved towards eight billion, more demand would be placed on copper and platinum to put an end to nine out of ten people in urban areas having to breathe in polluted air, which was deadlier than smoking, war and Aids put together.
“I’m talking about bad air, tiny particles get in your lungs and never come out,” which he said was worst for babies in strollers.
“The closer you live to a major road, the higher your chances of developing dementia,” he warned.
The new electric cars needed to curb urban air pollution would require a huge mount of copper and their batteries nickel, cobalt, graphite and lithium.
“Nothing is as cheap as solar energy and the revolution will come when we store electricity,” he said, while noting that China is consuming half of the world’s copper and half of that is going into power generation.
A move to hydrogen fuel cell power would mean that 10% of China’s cars would utilise the entire global production of platinum.
“The world needs us now,” he said of the mining industry.
The reduction of petrol consumption and the burning of less material that creates global warming would result in greater demand for platinum.