KoBold Metals, a startup backed by a coalition of billionaires including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, has committed $150 million to develop the Mingomba Copper-cobalt Mine in Zambia.
The company announced this at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.
The mine is said to be the world’s highest-grade undeveloped large deposit of orange metal.
The startup, which has Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and the world’s top miner BHP (ASX: BHP) as shareholders, will use its artificial intelligence tools to process drilling data and optimize exploration for copper and cobalt at Mingomba. KoBold’s investors include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a climate and technology fund founded by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and backed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Virgin’s Richard Branson.
Mingomba contains 247 million tonnes of ore with an average grade of 3.64% copper. This figure represents about six times higher grades than those found in Chile, the world’s top copper-producing nation, according to KoBold.
The mine development would be a significant win for Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema, who has set an ambitious copper production target of 3 million tonnes a year by 2032, from around 850,000 tonnes the country currently produces.
KoBold Metals is a developer of machine prospector technology intended to facilitate a search for cobalt ore locations digitally. Kurt House founded it in 2018, located in Berkeley California. KoBold’s investojrs include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a climate and technology fund founded by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and backed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Virgin’s Richard Branson.
KoBold aims to create a “Google Maps” of the Earth’s crust, with a special focus on finding cobalt deposits. It collects and analyzes multiple streams of data from old drilling results to satellite imagery to better understand where new deposits might be found.