TORONTO – Ivanhoe Mines founder Robert Friedland said on Monday he is taking a "hard look" at projects in the United States amid a global rush for green metals.
US President-elect Joe Biden has indicated support boosting domestic production of metals used to make electric vehicles, solar panels and other products crucial to his climate plan.
"We’ve been taking a hard look at projects in those states in the United States where we think we can get a social license to mine," Friedland said in a pre-recorded address at a virtual conference hosted by the Canada-based Association of Mineral Exploration. He did not name specific projects or states.
Ivanhoe Mines spokesman Matthew Keevil later said Friedland, the miner's co-executive chairman, was referring to his private ventures and that Ivanhoe remains focused on its current operating regions.
Ivanhoe owns 39.6% of the Kamoa-Kakula project in Congo’s copper belt as well as a 64% interest in the Platreef palladium, platinum, nickel, copper, rhodium and gold project in South Africa through its subsidiary Ivanplats.
Friedland's Ivanhoe Capital Acquisition Corp said January 11 it raised $276-million through a public share float to invest in green industries.
The US remains under-explored because previous administrations have considered mining a "toxic" industry, he said.
"But now even Joe Biden has said he will support the mining of copper in the United States because they know they need it," he said.
Last week, US President Donald Trump's outgoing administration approved a land swap that would clear the way for a Rio Tinto copper mine in Arizona.
The Resolution copper mine is opposed by environmentalists who fear it could pollute local water supplies and Native Americans who consider the land home to religious deities.
Last year, the US government denied a key permit for the Pebble copper-gold mine in Alaska, a decision the proponent has said it will challenge.