CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Any appearance by Ivanhoe Mining's (IVN) Robert Friedland is considered an actionable event. So when he asked to speak at Mining Indaba in Cape Town, it caught a lot of attention, especially because the topic was "Ivanplats - Developing World Class Mining Assets in Africa."
As it turned out, all he would say about Ivanplats was that it was holding onto a "tier 1" discovery in the Northern Limb of South Africa's Bushveld Complex. He could offer no more than to say investors should await imminent announcements about the longed for detail.
Someone in the audience reminded Friedland that this was exactly what he had said four years ago.
Friedland batted back with aplomb saying his companies are "very Chinese in their thinking". "Chinese water torture takes a long time," he quipped before declaring that he was running away from further questions.
Friedland also talked up his operations in Katanga, saying it was the first new copper discovery in the D.R. Congo since 1906. He alluded to a unique ore body saying that there was no cobalt contamination although there was some silver.
Beyond that there was nothing beyond the usual flattery of the host continent as home to the world's greatest mineral endowment. Similar things have been heard from him about Mongolia where the Oyu Tolgoi project is being joint ventured with Rio Tinto.
He said that copper was becoming money again, following in the wake of coal and copper. Friedland suggested that these commodities would become ever more attractive to central banks and sovereign wealth funds as alternatives to debased currencies.
"Nobody can model the demand side of the equation. You don't have to figure it out every year. Increasing urbanization and population growth are a permanent trend."
Friendland recommends that investors stake their money on conductive metals because of that trend.
"Copper suffers some substitution with aluminium, but energy needs conductive metals. Copper is the most conductive metal apart from gold and silver, but they are rather expensive.
"Platinum and palladium are proxies for gold and have a very bright future", concluded Friedland, talking - as ever - to his book.
(c) 2011, MineFund.com