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Robert Friedland has been a dynamic, transformative force in the Canadian and international mining industries for more than 25 years. The entrepreneur, financier and company-maker is one of the most recognized mining personalities and achievers on the world stage.
With his leadership, executives and companies affiliated with his Ivanhoe Capital Corporation have raised more than US$10 billion on world capital markets to advance a diverse portfolio of natural resources exploration and development projects, and leading- edge exploration and communications technologies, in more than 30 nations.
In Canada, Friedland co-founded Diamond Fields Resources in 1992 and became co- chairman in 1994, handling financing, after a hunt for diamonds and base metals by contracted geologists made the initial discovery of nickel and copper at Voisey’s Bay, in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Encouraged by Friedland’s “stake-to-the-horizon” mantra, and his capacity to secure investment commitments, Diamond Fields’ intensive exploration left nothing significant for the rush of latecomers. Inco won the big-league bidding orchestrated by Friedland, paid CDN$4.3 billion for the Voisey’s Bay discoveries in 1996 and began production in 2005.
Chicago-born Friedland graduated with a political science degree from Reed College, Oregon, in 1974. Flashlight inspection of an abandoned drift at the inactive Warner gold mine, on Oregon timberland acquired in an investment partnership with college pal (and Apple co-founder) Steve Jobs, provided the first glint of Friedland’s mining destiny in 1978. He found only fool’s gold (pyrite), but it sparked innate curiosity, and lifelong intrigue, about understanding earth’s mineral riches.
Distinguished B.C. geologist and mine-finder Victor Hollister became his first mining mentor when Friedland entered Vancouver’s frenetic, junior mining scene in 1980.
Warner was a founding asset in Galactic Resources, his early-1980s listing debut on the VSE and TSX. Galactic’s ill-fated, and regretted, Summitville gold mine in Colorado imprinted Friedland with respect for his ventures’ fulfilments of environmental obligations – and, he adds, wariness of tactics by governmental agencies.
Friedland founded and financed Fairbanks Gold, whose Fort Knox discovery was sold to Amax Gold (now Kinross) for US$152 million in 1992 and remains Alaska’s largest gold producer.
Holding U.S. and Canadian citizenships, Friedland made Singapore home base for Ivanhoe Capital and assembled Asia Pacific projects in Canada-based Ivanhoe Mines, a new flagship launched in Toronto in 1996.
Ivanhoe Mines began exploration of its Oyu Tolgoi prospect in Mongolia in 2000, which progressively revealed a 12-kilometre-long chain of copper-gold-silver deposits that ranks among the world’s most significant mineral discoveries. Rio Tinto acquired majority control of Oyu Tolgoi in 2012, began open-pit production in 2013 and is planning development of a giant underground mine.
Also in 2000, Friedland’s African Minerals began exploration in Sub-Saharan Africa, adopting the Ivanhoe Mines name in 2013. In 2014, construction began for a mechanized, underground mine on the site of a major discovery of platinum-group elements, nickel, copper and gold on South Africa’s Platreef. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivanhoe’s 2009 Kamoa copper discovery – the DRC’s largest in a century – is recognized as the world’s largest, undeveloped, high-grade copper deposit.
Friedland’s industry recognitions include Canada’s Developer of the Year (1996) and Mining Person of the Year (2006); Australia’s Dealmaker of the Year (2011); and Hong Kong’s inaugural Mining Personality of the Year (2012).