BHP, Ivanhoe Electric team up to hunt for US copper

Ivanhoe Electric’s Typhoon in action at Santa Cruz, in Arizona. (Image courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines.)

Mining giant BHP (ASX, LON, NYSE: BHP) and Ivanhoe Electric (NYSE American, TSX: IE) have partnered to explore for copper and other critical minerals in selected areas in the United States, where they would potentially set 50:50 joint ventures.

“BHP and Ivanhoe Electric have a common goal to find new sources of the critical minerals necessary to meet growing demand associated with the energy transition and the electrification revolution,” Ivanhoe Electric executive chairperson Robert Friedland said in the statement.

“We see today’s announcement as the first step in what we expect to be a long and successful partnership between Ivanhoe Electric and BHP,” Ivanhoe Electric chief executive Taylor Melvin noted. 

The partnership is structured in two phases: project generation and joint venture, with exploration activities leading to the possible development and operation of mining projects. 

Initial exploration will focus on six areas across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, with BHP investing $15 million over the initial three-year term. Ivanhoe Electric will provide access to one of its new generation Typhoon geophysical survey systems, as well as the machine learning algorithmic software and data inversion services of its subsidiary, Computational Geosciences.

The companies anticipate that the future significant mineral findings in the US will probably be found at great depths, in regions where newer, non-mineralized layers cover the geological formations below.

Ivanhoe Electric has been applying the same strategy in other parts of the global to secure reliable supplies of copper, a key material in the transition to renewable energy and electric mobility.

Last year, the firm kicked off one of the biggest exploration campaigns ever in Saudi Arabia with its 50:50 joint venture partner, state-owned mining company Ma’aden, in which they are using the Typhoon technology.

Ivanhoe Electric’s proprietary technology, created by I-Pulse Inc. of Toulouse, France, is already at work at the company’s Santa Cruz copper project in Arizona.