In a bold move, California-based KoBold Metals, boasting high-profile backers including tech titans Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, has unveiled plans to kickstart copper and cobalt production in Zambia within the next decade.
The company has earmarked a staggering $150 million investment to expedite its quest for additional deposits at the promising Mingomba project, strategically positioned along Africa’s renowned copper belt.
According to Mfikeyi Makayi, the Zambian CEO of this Silicon Valley startup, the supplementary studies are slated for completion by 2024. “It’s an exceedingly compelling project, and we’ve affirmed our commitment to transforming Mingomba into a productive mine within the next ten years,” Makayi affirmed in a statement to Reuters.
Employing cutting-edge artificial intelligence, KoBold’s mission is to unearth copper, cobalt, nickel, and lithium—essential elements driving the global shift towards clean energy and propelling the surge in electric vehicles.
With backing from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a climate and technology fund counting luminaries such as Richard Branson of Virgin Group and Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates among its supporters, KoBold is well poised for the prolonged gestation period inherent to mine development. Makayi underscored the gravity of securing a stable supply of these pivotal metals, emphasizing, “The global demand is so urgent, it’s essentially a crisis. That’s why there’s such resolute commitment to our cause.”
KoBold concurrently pursues ventures in critical metals alongside industry giants BHP Group and Rio Tinto in Australia. Stakeholders in the Mingomba endeavor also include commodity investor EMR Capital and Zambia’s ZCCM-IH.
With the United States actively seeking alternative sources for critical metals, financial support from American investors has empowered KoBold to escalate its exploratory efforts, as Makayi pointed out.
The company’s ambitions extend beyond Mingomba, with plans to unearth deposits on par with their Zambian venture, not only in Botswana, Namibia, but also in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as Makayi disclosed. When questioned about potential collaborations with BHP and Rio Tinto for the development of Mingomba, Makayi remained circumspect, hinting that KoBold’s internal capabilities might suffice for advancing the project.
KoBold reports a defined resource of approximately 247 million tons of ore, boasting an average grade of 3.64% copper, translating to an estimated 9 million tons of copper.
As Makayi concluded, “Perhaps they’ll come on board; it doesn’t have to be in Zambia—it could be in Namibia or Botswana. They’re our partners, but those conversations are yet to transpire.”