(Bloomberg) -- McEwen Mining Inc. is planning to take its copper unit public next year, seeking to capitalize on growing demand for the wiring metal. 

The company run by metals entrepreneur Rob McEwen is preparing an initial public offering for its McEwen Copper business in the first half of 2023, according to Michael Meding, who leads the unit. The company operates in Los Azules, one of the world’s biggest underdeveloped copper deposits. 

“These are exciting times to be in mining and in Argentina,” Meding, who was previously at Barrick Gold Corp., said in a phone interview. There’s been increased interest from prospective investors who previously were less active in mining, he said. 

McEwen Copper, which landed Rio Tinto Group venture funding in a recent private placement, would go public at a time when copper demand is accelerating while the industry’s production pipeline is running dry. The global shift away from fossil fuels has spurred demand for the metal that goes into electric vehicles and solar panels. 

The company currently has eight rigs doing exploration and resource drilling at the Los Azules property in Argentina’s San Juan province. Meding expects to apply as early as mid-April for the environmental permit for exploitation. A feasibility study may be ready in 2024, at which time a development decision could be made.

Argentina’s government has made efforts to develop more of its vast deposits of lithium and copper, and San Juan in particular is becoming a hot-spot. Lundin Mining Corp. is also drilling large deposits in the province while Glencore Plc is accelerating feasibility work at its El Pachon project.

(Adds timetable detail in fifth paragraph. A previous version corrected location of Lundin project in last paragraph.)

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