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Demand rises as old mines deteriorate: exec

Keywords: Tags  copper, Ivanplats, Robert Friedland, Kamoa, Democractic Republic of the Congo, copper demand, 12th World Copper Conference, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Andrea Hotter

SANTIAGO, Chile — The rise of megacities is driving up copper consumption, but existing mines won’t be enough to meet demand, according to Robert Friedland, executive chairman and founder of Ivanplats Ltd.

Many existing copper mines are deteriorating like "little old ladies lying in bed waiting to die," Friedland said at the 12th World Copper Conference in Santiago, making high-quality new projects all the more important.

Many accoutrements of modern life require copper, he said, noting that the average phone contains about 0.5 ounce of the red metal, the average car uses 50 pounds, the average hybrid vehicle contains 100 pounds and buses, streetcars and subway cars each use about 2,300 pounds of copper.

Meanwhile, global electricity use is projected to rise 70 percent between 2010 and 2035, and the United Nations has set a goal of ensuring universal access to modern energy sources by 2030, Friedland said.

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company is working on the largest undeveloped copper mine in the world, the Kamoa project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in order to meet growing demand. "Kamoa bypassed Tenke Fungurume like a blowtorch through tissue paper," Friedland said, referring to Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold’s Inc.’s mine in the DRC’s Katanga province.

Kamoa’s cash costs are expected to average 95 cents per pound over the first 10 years.

The project will make use of a Chinese-built electrified railway connecting the DRC to Angola, which will be completed this year, Friedland said.

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