Jun. 11, 2024
Bill Gates' KoBold May Spend $2.3 Billion Building Zambia Copper Mine
TMTPOST--KoBold Metals, an artificial intelligence-aided mining exploration company backed by Bill Gates, may invest $2.3 billion to develop a significant new copper mine in Zambia, according to Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, citing figures provided by the company. The company aims to produce more than 300,000 tons per year at Mingomba making the operation the country’s biggest copper producer. Shaft sinking will begin in the first half of 2026, according to the company officials. Zambia is seeking to become one of the world’s largest producers of copper, which is crucial for green technologies like electric vehicles and wind turbines. KoBold has secured over $400 million in funding, with investors including Microsoft founder Bill Gates' climate tech venture capital firm Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, and Silicon Valley venture capital firm a16z (Andreessen Horowitz). Currently, KoBold's valuation exceeds $1 billion, making it a unicorn company. KoBold, founded in 2018, is dedicated to developing machine prospecting technology. It aims to harness the power of AI to explore deposits of metals such as copper, lithium, and cobalt. The company is currently exploring around 60 sites for lithium, copper, cobalt, and nickel across four continents and collaborates with well-known companies like BHP and Rio Tinto. KoBold utilizes AI technology for digital prospecting, combining geoscience, systematic data integration, and AI to accelerate exploration and reduce the costs of mineral prospecting. The team has introduced a proprietary AI tool concept called Information Efficiency (EOI), which enables KoBold to determine what data to collect at each exploration step to minimize uncertainty. The world faces predicted shortages of the metal in the coming decades amid the shift away from fossil fuels. Hichilema has previously said the Mingomba project could ultimately become one of the three-biggest copper mines globally. In December, Zambia agreed to sell its Mopani Copper to International Resources Holdings, a United Arab Emirates company which has promised to invest in Mopani. The government bought the mine from Glencore for $1.5 billion.
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