MAC/20: Mines and Communities

London Calling issues a Public Health Warning

Published by MAC on 2012-12-11
Source: London Calling,

Friedland threatens UK foray

He's not the world's wealthiest mining billionaire (Mexico's Carlos Slim owns that dubious accolade). But he's certainly its most notorious.

Known from student days as "Toxic Bob" (probably referring to his alleged drug dealing at the time - but the nickname has justifiably stuck) Robert Friedland has launched projects that would sit high on any list of the world's most damaging extractive enterprises.

In 1985-86, gold heap leach pads collapsed at his first mining venture, the Galactic Resources' Summitville mine in Colorado.

As we graphically reported in 2001, the mine "was about as safe as ice lollies made with water drawn from a Rangoon sewer...cyanide solution - sprayed in thousands of gallons over the heaps - began leaking from the pads, which then overflowed. Worse, acidic wastes laced with heavy metals from ore and rock began forming the deadly cocktail known as acid mine drainage". See: The Man with the Golden Arm

Nor can Toxic Bob escape at least some responsibility for his early promotion of Golden Star Resources which, alongside Canada's Cambior, was responsible for the massive 1995 Omai tailings dam collapse in Guyana. See: Omai, Omai!

Arguably, however, even more opprobrium should be cast on the better-known mining companies that have bedded down with him in recent times.

Standing tallest among these is Rio Tinto, which partnered with Friedland in the early years of Papau New Guinea's Lihir gold venture, and poured money into his Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold play in Mongolia after 2007.

But it's Rio Tinto's financial alliance with Ivanhoe - while the latter was still profiting from the Monywa copper mine under Bumese military rule - which has raised most ire over the past five years. See: Rio Tinto increases grip on Ivanhoe, as Mongolia mega-project proceeds

To the London lists!

Last week, Robber Friedland announced his intention to launch an Initial Public Offering shares (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) "during the first half of next year". He did so at the Mines and Money conference, hosted by the Mining Journal in north London - just a rock fall away from MAC's UK office.

Following Rio Tinto's takeover of Ivanhoe last year, Robber Friedland left the company to swiftly form Ivanplats Ltd, which holds a platinum, gold and copper deposit in South Africa and two copper projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It has additional assets, spread across South Africa, Gabon and Australia.

In October 2012, Ivanplats raised over Cdn$300 million (US$305 million) from its initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange. This immediately became the largest Canadian mining IPO after Tahoe Resources Inc. raised C$348 million in 2010.

It was also the most significant global metals and mining IPO since Glencore's on the London Stock Exchange, completed in 2011.

So now, this tarnished king of copper, knight of the noxious, baron of the barren, prince of pollution, is about to throw his insidious shadow over the Capital of mining capital.

The good citizens of London have been duly forewarned.

[London Calling is published by Nostromo Research. opinions in this column do not necessarily represent those of any other person or group. Reproduction is welcomed, under a Creative Commons Licence]


Ivanplats next stop? London, says Friedland

Cecilia Jamasmie

4 December 2012

Mining legend and Ivanplats  CEO, Robert Friedland, said he aims to have his African-focused mining company landing in the London stock exchange during the first half of next year.

Speaking at the Mines and Money conference in London, he said the company's Kamoa project in the Democratic Republic of Congo has the potential to become the largest copper mine in the world, reports The MetalBulletin.

"This is going to be a transformative copper mine for the DRC. By building a smelter and treating metal on site, we will produce sulphuric acid as a by-product, which is in desperate demand in [the country]," Friedland was quoted as saying.

"It will be bigger than Tenke Fungurume in measured, indicated and inferred resources. There's nothing to compare to Kamoa," he added.

Friedland is well known in the industry for his ability to spot some of the world's largest mines when they are still in their preliminary stages.

Names such as the Voisey's Bay nickel deposit in Eastern Canada and the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold deposit in Mongolia are two of Friedland's most touted findings.

Ivanplats, his latest venture, owns a platinum, gold and copper deposit in South Africa and two copper projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It also has other assets spread across South Africa, Gabon and Australia.

Friedland, 62, sits at #546 on Forbes Billionaires list.


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