CRU/CESCO-Ivanhoe's Friedland makes Congo copper find

Wed Apr 1, 2009 12:56pm EDT

   (Adds details, comments, Oyu Tolgoi details)
By Cameron French
SANTIAGO, April 1 (Reuters) - Mining magnate Robert
Friedland, who discovered the Voisey's Bay nickel deposit and
is currently developing the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper/gold
site, said on Wednesday he had uncovered a copper find in the
Democratic Republic of Congo that could rank as one of the
world's largest.
Speaking at the CRU/CESCO copper conference in Santiago,
Friedland said his privately-held Ivanhoe Nickel & Platinum
(Ivanplats) unit had struck copper at the Kamoa property in
DRC, located just west of the Kolwezi and Tenke-Fungurume mines
in the Central African Copper Belt.
"We believe that the Kamoa discovery has the potential to
become a super giant orebody, one of the five largest copper
deposits ever discovered," said Friedland, who is no stranger
to soaring rhetoric, but who also has a resume that indicates a
knack for identifying rich metal finds.
 Friedland uncovered Voisey's Bay in eastern Canada while
searching for diamonds, and ultimately sold it to nickel miner
Inco for billions. Oyu Tolgoi, which is located in Mongolia and
owned by Friedland-controlled Ivanhoe Mines (IVN.TO), is one of
the top copper/gold properties in the world.
Ivanhoe Mines, which is partnered with Rio Tinto (RIO.L), is
currently waiting for Mongolia to approve an investment
agreement that would allow it to mine Oyu Tolgoi.
Friedland said Mongolia's parliament is expected to consider
approval of the agreement next week.
 "Next week, the Mongolian parliament will reconvene, and
it's announced that one of their first orders of business will
be to review, and probably approve, a long-term investment
agreement," he said.
 Shares of Ivanhoe Mines were up 52 Canadian cents at C$8.30
on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The Kamoa announcement comes as some analysts have bemoaned
a lack of recent large new copper discoveries, which they
predict could lead to a supply crunch when global demand
rebounds from the current economic slowdown.
 Friedland said Kamoa sits 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) west
of the historic Kolwezi mine and about 100 km away from
Freeport-McMoRan's (FCX.N) Tenke-Fungurume mine.
The Kamoa deposit also lies beneath a rail line currently
under construction connecting the property to Africa's west
coast, he said.
 He said drilling to date at Kamoa had uncovered
mineralization over an 18-km strike length.
 "We've currently tested 74 square kilometers of
mineralization. The target area is about 1,000 square
kilometers, and we're approaching a half a million tonnes of
contained copper per square kilometer," he said.
In a statement, Ivanplats said it was in confidential
discussions with "a carefully selected number of the world's
leading, private and state-owned international mining
companies" to form a partnership to develop Kamoa.
Friedland also painted a rosy picture for future copper
prices, predicting a falling U.S. dollar and the increasing use
of electrified technologies in the auto industry should be
positive for the price.
 "I'm very optimistic about copper," he told Reuters after
his presentation.
 "Since copper conducts electricity better than anything
else other than gold and silver, which are too expensive,
copper wins."
 (Additional reporting by Reese Ewing; Editing by Marguerita