Friedland in show-stopper ahead of SA listing – by David McKay ( – October 29, 2013)

“People are saying the super-cycle is dead; they are completely idiotic…” Robert Friedland

[] – DEMONSTRATING all the brio that allowed him to raise $504m for mining in two of the world’s riskiest mining domains – the Congo and South Africa – entrepreneur Robert Friedland urged his audience at the Joburg Indaba to ignore the ‘idiots’ who thought the commodity super-cycle was dead.

“People are saying the super-cycle is dead; they are completely idiotic,” said Friedland who added that South Africa as an investment destination was also safe. “The review of mining legislation [in South Africa] has raised some concerns, but nationalisation has ben kicked into touched. Shouldn’t that give us comfort?”, he said.

“You can’t argue that the state should protect its own interests. The referee must be independent, the playing field level. Once investors have confidence in policy stability, the rest must follow,” he said.

Friedland was hitting all the high notes once again promoting this time Ivanhoe Mines, the Toronto-listed exploration and development company that is planning to build South Africa’s largest platinum mine, the so-called Flatreef project, as well as a copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), known as Kamoa.

Friedland described both of them as “highly disruptive to their respective markets” given the scope of their production, especially Kamoa which with a strike length of 23km could be mapped over the city of London with ease – a visual he demonstrated in his presentation.
Plans to list Ivanhoe Mines on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, meanwhile, were “well advanced”, he said, adding that “an announcement would be made in due course”. He also said the company had applied for a mining right for Flatreef in June from the South African government, adding: “We’re going to build this mechanised mine on a firm foundation with rock solid legs”. Some 10,000 direct and indirect jobs would be created and in a development that is likely to cause trouble for traditional platinum miners, employees at Flatreef would be “well paid”, said Friedland.

“Enterprise development intiatives will be developed including agricutlure; beneficiation downstream is critical leg of local strategy,” he added. “We have worked in your country for 18 years, until we discovered something [Flatreef] that is right under everyone’s nose,” said Friedland.

Yet it was to the commodity that he returned with most enthusiasm. Pessimists had completely misjudged the market by focusing on the short-term when, in fact, Friedland thought the next five years was like “tomorrow morning” for the mining sector.

Fuel cell powered cars were “ready to roll down Main Street” while massive urbanisation would drive commodity demand for years to come.

“The PGM [platinum group metal] market is powered by the massive urbanisation with 68% of the world’s population likely to live in cities by 2050. “This process of urbanisation is absolutely unstoppable and inexorable. It will happen in Africa and much faster than people realise,” he said.

There was some scepticism as delegates filed out of the lunch venue where Friedland had been speaking – “He’s claiming to have found five of the world’s best mining properties” said one analyst – but there was no doubting that Friedland’s marketing skills are an impassioned tour de force of nerve and self-confidence.

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