World needs more copper if it wants to move away from fossil fuels: Ivanhoe Chairman

Publish January 14, 2022
finance & economy

Copper excavation needs to dramatically increase if the world wants to switch to electric cars, according to one of the world’s leading mining figures.

Robert Friedland, co-chairman of the Canada-based Ivanhoe Mines, has warned that the drive to replace high-emission vehicles across the globe could be stalled by a lack of access to key metals.

Speaking at the Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh on Thursday, the billionaire financier said that industry-leading electric vehicle maker Tesla “expects a global battery mineral shortage, and we haven’t started electrifying cars yet.”

He predicted that “copper demand for electric cars will rise 10 times by 2030,” as: “The larger the object you want to electrify, the more you need copper.”

Friedland went on to claim that despite global efforts to cut harmful emissions, the world will still rely on hydrocarbon — generated by burning fossil fuels — “for a long time.”

“Even an electric car is 25 percent hydrocarbon by weight because of the plastics involved to make it lighter,” he said, adding: “When it becomes fashionable for the institution investors not to invest in hydrocarbon, you will have higher hydrocarbon prices, thus the role of Saudi Arabia in energy transformation will become even more critical and central.”

Friedland went on to say that “it is highly strategic for Saudi Arabia to lead the reinvention of mining because we don't mine in order to make money, we mine as a means to an end.”

Referring to the ‘Saudi Shield’ — a geological area around the Red Sea — Friedland said his company has “a non-invasive technology that generates a huge amount of electrical energy, the output of 2 km power plant.”

“If there is water down there, if there is copper, gold or nickel or even oil, we will see it,” he added.


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