KoBold Metals, backed by a group of influential billionaires, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, has unveiled ambitious plans to establish a copper-cobalt mine in Zambia within the next decade.
The California-based company, which allocated $150 million to the Mingomba project earlier this year, intends to explore additional copper deposits at this site, hailed as the world’s highest-grade undeveloped copper resource.
KoBold, boasting the world’s leading mining company, BHP, among its shareholders, anticipates completing further exploration at the property in the coming year.
Mfikeyi Makayi, CEO of KoBold Metals, remarked, “It’s an exceptionally promising project, and we’ve set a goal to turn Mingomba into a productive mine within a decade.”
The Mingomba copper project, situated in Zambia, the second-largest copper producer in Africa, contains a staggering 247 million tonnes of ore with an average copper grade of 3.64%.
This figure represents grades approximately six times higher than those typically found in Chile, the world’s foremost copper-producing nation, according to KoBold.
The estimated cost of constructing the mine is projected to be around $1 billion, facilitated through a joint venture with Australian private equity firm EMR Capital and state-backed miner ZCCM Investing Holdings (LON: ZCC).
AI-Powered Exploration KoBold embarked on its quest for battery metals three years ago in Canada, securing rights to approximately 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) of land in northern Quebec, adjacent to Glencore’s Raglan nickel mine.
The company now holds about a dozen exploration properties in various locations, including Zambia, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Western Australia, primarily established through joint ventures with industry leaders such as BHP and BlueJay Mining (LON: JAY) for mineral exploration in Greenland.
Leveraging on artificial intelligence, KoBold aims to develop a comprehensive “Google Maps” of the Earth’s crust, with a specific focus on identifying copper, cobalt, nickel, and lithium deposits.
The company collects and analyzes a myriad of data streams, ranging from historical drilling results to satellite imagery, to gain deeper insights into potential deposit locations.
By employing algorithms to analyze the collected data, KoBold identifies geological patterns that may indicate the presence of cobalt, often found alongside nickel and copper.
This cutting-edge technology can pinpoint resources that conventional geologists may have overlooked and aid mining companies in land acquisition and drilling decisions.
Copper’s demand has surged due to its vital role in renewable energy and electric vehicles (EVs), yet the discovery of significant new deposits remains rare.
It is estimated that the global copper industry needs to invest over $100 billion in developing mines capable of addressing a potential annual supply shortfall of 4.7 million tonnes by 2030.
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