Friedland, renowned for his charismatic speaking style as well as his mining acumen, today delivered the Arvi Parbo oration at the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies 2007 National Mining Congress.
Steering clear of any specific discussion of his Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia, or a potential takeover bid for Ivanhoe by a company like Rio Tinto, Friedland instead said that role of the Australian resource industry was vital in helping build future global prosperity.
"I'm not here to discuss our own little business plans," he said. "This is more of a cosmic talk."
Freidland outlined the massive global changes driving the resources boom - the growth in China, India and Russia, where billions of people are rapidly embracing urbanisation and consumerism, and said that the boom was unprecedented in human history.
"In previous discussions I've always referred to this as a vue ja de phenomenon - it's clearly in the overwhelming feeling that none of this has ever happened before. We've never had billions of people simultaneously access the sum total of human knowledge on the internet and prodigiously apply it developing their own economies and entering the world economy," he said.
"You can't model this, you can't refer to previous economic cycles, because it hasn't happened, since around the time of Europe coming out of the dark ages. It's a very very profound phenomenon and none of us really even begin to understand it."
Friedland also outlined what he saw as the key issues facing the world going forward - the rise of nationalism in South America and geopolitical instability, nuclear proliferation, higher commodity and food prices, and even climate change - and the way the resources industry was central to addressing these issues by providing the raw equipment needed for everything from more tractors to help grow more food to uranium for nuclear power stations and metals like cobalt and cadmium for renewable energy sources.
"What I nut this all out I think the only way to maintain peace is to embark on a huge project to reduce global warming and to reduce nuclear proliferation, and to drive down the real price of things for the benefit of humanity - meaning everyone in China deserves to eat Yoplait yoghurt, everyone in India ought to be able to eat turkey if they really want to," he said.
Friedland also said Australia was an immensely lucky country with its strong resource base and "go-getting spirit", and that its role in the future of the world was to provide those resources - and the spirited geologists to find those resources - to the rapidly changing world.
"I believe you're in the most lucky country in the world and that you are in the most critical industry in the most lucky country in the world, and I think you need to breed more of your own kind - and I mean more the people in this room. We need more young geologists, young mining engineers, and we need that Australian spirit if the world is going to provide a decent lifestyle for everyone."
"If we're going to have a better world, a less tense world … we need the lucky country to fill the supply gap. Feed the Chinese nickel, copper, cobalt, uranium and iron ore. Feed India nickel, cobalt and ad nasuem. And fill that critical shortage of geologists," he said.
"Everyone deserves the same sort of lifestyle as you have here in the lucky country. And the only way you're going to be able to do that is to figure out how to make a breeder reactor for geologists. It's only the geologists, it's only the people in the earth sciences, that directly feel that this real stuff has to come from somewhere."