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HomeUSABill Gates- and Jeff Bezos-backed startup discovers large-scale copper deposit in Zambia

Bill Gates- and Jeff Bezos-backed startup discovers large-scale copper deposit in Zambia

A truck makes its way over the Victoria Falls bridge, spanning over the Zambezi River, linking Zambia and Zimbabwe, in Livingstone, Zambia, on Sunday, May 8, 2022.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

KoBold Metals, a California-based metals exploration company backed by billionaires including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, said it has discovered a vast copper deposit in Zambia.

The rare discovery of a large-scale copper deposit could help in the global race to secure a supply of materials critical to the energy transition. Copper is in high demand due to its use in renewable energy and electric vehicles.

A spokesperson for KoBold Metals told CNBC on Monday that the company believes its Mingomba copper project in Zambia “will be one of the world’s biggest high-grade large copper mines.”

“It is Kakula-scale in size and grade,” KoBold Metals President Josh Goldman said in a statement shared on the firm’s social media site X. The giant Kamoa-Kakula copper mine is situated just across Zambia’s northern border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ivanhoe Mines, a Canadian mining company founded by billionaire magnate Robert Friedland, owns nearly 40% of the Kamoa-Kakula copper mine. It has described the complex as “the world’s fastest-growing, highest-grade [and] lowest carbon major copper mine.” It produced nearly 400,000 metric tons of copper last year.

Zambia is Africa’s second-largest copper producer after the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

KoBold Metals says it uses artificial intelligence to create a “Google Maps” of the Earth’s crust to help find new deposits of copper, lithium, cobalt and nickel.

The Silicon Valley startup’s investors include U.S. venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Norwegian energy giant Equinor, the world’s largest mining group BHP and Breakthrough Energy, a climate and technology fund founded by Bill Gates in 2015.

Some of Breakthrough Energy’s backers are Bridgewater Associates’ Ray Dalio, Virgin Group’s Richard Branson, Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

Copper plates on wagons ready for onward shipping at the Mufulira refinery, operated by Mopani Copper Mines Plc, in Mufulira, Zambia, on Friday, May 6, 2022.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

KoBold Metals has said it aims to start producing copper at its mine in Zambia within 10 years, in a project that could have significant economic ramifications for the African nation.

“What they’ve discovered is quite phenomenal,” said Jito Kayumba, special assistant to the Zambian president on economic, investment and development affairs.

“There is a lot that we as Zambians can look forward to in terms of the announcement of their mine development which should be coming on stream,” Kayumba said in a video posted on social media site X on Monday.

As part of a rapid uptick in demand for critical minerals, the IEA has warned that the current global supply falls short of what is needed to transform the energy sector, given a relatively high geographical concentration of the production of many energy transition elements.

Most rare earth reserves are located in China, while Vietnam, Brazil and Russia are also major rare earths countries based on reserve volume.



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