Company backed by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos Aims to Start Copper and Cobalt Production in Zambia Within a Decade

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Bill Gates

California-based KoBold Metals, supported by prominent figures like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, is pursuing ambitious plans to commence copper and cobalt production at the Mingomba project in Zambia within the next ten years. The company is investing approximately $150 million to expedite its quest for additional deposits in this area along the renowned African copper belt.

Additional studies and exploration activities at the Mingomba project are scheduled for completion by 2024, according to Mfikeyi Makayi, the Zambian CEO of the Silicon Valley startup KoBold Metals. Makayi expressed confidence in the project’s potential, stating, “It’s a very attractive project, and we have said within a decade we would want Mingomba to be a producing mine.”

KoBold Metals employs artificial intelligence to search for essential metals such as copper, cobalt, nickel, and lithium, vital for the clean energy transition and the growth of electric vehicles. Backed by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a climate and technology fund with support from influential figures like Richard Branson and Ray Dalio, KoBold acknowledges the urgency of securing supplies of these metals.

“It’s basically a crisis,” Makayi noted, emphasizing the critical global need for these materials. The extended timeframes associated with mine development align with the commitment of the company’s unconventional backers.

KoBold Metals also collaborates with industry giants BHP Group and Rio Tinto on projects in Australia. Stakes in the Mingomba project are held by commodity investor EMR Capital and Zambia’s ZCCM-IH.

The United States is exploring alternative sources of critical metals supply, and American investors have enabled KoBold to intensify its exploration efforts. The company aspires to discover deposits in Zambia as substantial as Mingomba and explore opportunities in Botswana, Namibia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Makayi refrained from confirming potential partnerships with BHP and Rio Tinto for the development of the Mingomba project, emphasizing that KoBold’s internal capacity could suffice. Discussions with partners regarding the project’s future direction are yet to take place.

The Mingomba deposit boasts a defined resource of around 247 million tons of ore with an average copper grade of 3.64%, equating to an estimated 9 million tons of copper.

KoBold Metals’ ambitions in Zambia and beyond reflect the growing importance of securing critical metal supplies for the global transition to clean energy and electric vehicles.

Source : Reuters

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