LONDON Ivanplats Ltd. chief executive officer Robert Friedland is touting the companys Kamoa project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as potentially the largest copper mine in the world.
"This is going to be a transformative copper mine for the DRC. By building a smelter and treating metal on site, we will produce sulfuric acid as a by-product, which is in desperate demand" in the country, Friedland told delegates at this weeks Mines and Money London 2012 conference. "It will be bigger than (the) Tenke Fungurume (copper-cobalt mine) in measured, indicated and inferred resources. Theres nothing to compare to Kamoa."
The project is still in the development stages, but it has indicated mineral resources representing up to 21.7 million tonnes of contained copper.
Vancouver, British Columbia-based Ivanplats shares debuted on the Toronto Stock Exchange at $4.85 each, following an initial public offering that raised $307 million.
The company owns Kamoa as well as the Kipushi zinc-copper project, also in the DRC, and Platreef, a platinum-gold-copper project in South Africa. It had a market capitalization of $2.5 billion at the time of the IPO.
"It was the largest IPO in Canada since 2010. Weve never seen a more anaerobic period, and it was very hard to stimulate investors hand-to-wallet reflex," Friedland said.
"Weve invested more than $230 million of private capital over an 18-year period," he added.
At Kipushi, formerly the King Leopold Mine, Ivanplats has one of the richest zinc mines in the world. "It has up to 40 percent zinc and copper and a very large volume of previously mined zinc in ore," Friedland said.
The mine flooded two years ago, however, and will not be completely dewatered until the first part of 2013, he added.
At Platreef, meanwhile, Ivanplats has a major platinum-gold-copper project, but it must contend with a difficult political situation in South Africa in the wake of bloody miners strikes there.
Friedland appeared unfazed by these issues, however, saying the operations will be completely mechanized and will be developed as a series of mechanized mines.
"This is my favorite discovery in all my years of mining. Its completely transformative," he said. "We have a deposit that will not involve muscle. It will be completely safe so that we can have non-blood platinum. Its a very good thing for the South African economy."
The company has also received support from the Japanese government, as it is one of the largest consumers of platinum group metals. "They are concerned about having a long-term, stable and ethical supply of these metals," Friedland said.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.