PDAC-Mining legend Friedland looks to burnish his image

Tue Mar 5, 2013 3:12pm EST
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By Euan Rocha and Rod Nickel

TORONTO, March 5 (Reuters) - Leave it to the irreverent Robert Friedland to brighten the mood of a mining conference in the throes of a deep, collective depression.

The outspoken financier, known for his talent for picking winners in a risky business, made a rare public appearance on Monday to trumpet his latest venture, Ivanplats Ltd.

It was a star turn by a man apparently unburdened by self-doubt or any lack of confidence in the industry's resilience.

Friedland's company, one of a handful of initial public offerings in the mining industry last year, owns South Africa's Platreef, a project rich in platinum, palladium, gold, rhodium, nickel and copper.

Ivanplats owns the "largest mechanizable, ethical precious metal discovery in the world," Friedland said at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto, promising that the geological nature of the deposit would allow for more humane working conditions than those in rival South African mines.

"We've discovered something that is very good," he said, "We're quite confident that the nickel and copper values are double what we would need to recover, gold, platinum, rhodium and palladium at a negative cost."

Friedland's sheer enthusiasm seemed out of step with the predominant mood at this year's PDAC, where talk has often focused on the dearth of financing for mining projects amid cost overruns, multi-billion dollar writedowns and stagnant metal prices.

Friedland sees a big opportunity for Ivanplats to fill a coming void in the market, with the majors hunkering down and shelving major projects after several ousted their CEOs.   Continued...