China is set to be globally dominant in the area of electric cars and talk about impending Chinese economic meltdown is nothing but that, executive chairman and founder of Ivanhoe Mines Robert Friedland told the FT Commodities Global Summit Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.
"I think it's just silly to think that China's going to collapse," Friedland said. "I see zero chance of a material disruption. None."
Among other indications of its continued vitality, he pointed to China's large-scale solar and wind power projects -- with generating units rivaling the Eiffel Tower in size -- as well as auto production of 27 million units and plans to ramp up to 60 million units in the near future. Many of those cars will be electric.
"And they're going to sell those cars all over the world," Friedland said. "China is going to dominate the world in electric cars."
He cautioned those who envy China's stockpiling of raw materials that will be the building blocks of the batteries that drive those vehicles.
"You can't fault the Chinese for buying up all the copper and cobalt. You can't fault them for being intelligent," Friedland said. "In fact, I'd advise you to join them."
Richard Adkerson, vice chairman, president and CEO of Freeport-McMoRan Inc, agreed with his fellow panelist's assessment of China.
"Every year there's been predictions of China falling apart," Adkerson said. "They have done a remarkable job of keeping their economy together."
They both agreed global copper supply is likely to outstrip future demand, as well.
"The rise is on the demand side, not on the supply side," Adkerson said. "There's not going to be any huge, I feel confident saying, huge major upside surprises on copper supply."
Friedland said five or six tier-one copper mines would have to come online to adequately meet future demand.
New projects take some eight to 10 years to reach the production stage. "It's not going to be something you just turn on the spigot and there's going to be huge supply," Adkerson said.