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Robert Friedland, executive chairman of Ivanhoe Mines, speaks during a conference in this file photo.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. says it plans to hire a banker and get "strategic advice" to deal with the unsolicited interest the company and its projects have received in recent months.

Robert Friedland, executive chairman of the Vancouver-based company, said the bank's mandate will be to advise the board on all strategic options for Ivanhoe.

The announcement sent Ivanhoe shares soaring 14 per cent to close at $1.91 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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"The mining industry has taken notice of our company," Mr. Friedland said in a news release.

Ivanhoe did not provide names of potential buyers but said it had received "a number of unsolicited inquiries from significant mining industry participants in Asia, Europe, Africa and elsewhere."

One of Ivanhoe's main assets is the Kamoa copper project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ivanhoe and China's Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. jointly own 95 per cent of Kamoa through a holding company, with the DRC government owning a 5-per-cent stake.

Although weak copper prices have made it difficult for companies to offload lower-quality copper mines, there is demand for top-tier assets. Barrick Gold Corp. managed to sell part of its top Chilean copper mine for $1-billion (U.S.) when copper prices were dropping.

The company recently announced positive drilling results from Kakula, the southern part of the Kamoa project. At the time, the company called it a significant discovery.

The price of copper is trading near $2 a pound compared with more than $4 in 2011.

It is unknown whether Mr. Friedland aims to sell the entire company, or just specific assets such as Kamoa or the miner's Platreef platinum-palladium-gold-nickel-copper discovery in South Africa.

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There is likely more demand for individual assets rather than the entire company.

Mr. Friedland made his name with the $4.3-billion (Canadian) sale of the Voisey's Bay nickel-copper-cobalt discovery in northern Labrador to Inco Ltd. in 1996.

Ivanhoe said on Monday that it has started investor and banking analyst tours of its projects, including Kakula.

Analysts and investors need to get a first-hand understanding of the progress and potential of the project as well as its scale, said Ivanhoe chief executive officer Lars-Eric Johansson.

Ivanhoe is also upgrading its Kipushi zinc-copper-lead-germanium mine in the DRC.

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