Billionaire-Backed Kobold Metals to Invest in Zambia Copper Mine

Kobold Metals to Invest in Zambia Copper Mine

California-based artificial intelligence exploration firm KoBold Metals is investing $150 million to develop a copper mine in Zambia, the company announced at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., a win for Zambia’s president who has set an ambitious copper production target.

The Mingomba project will be a joint venture with Australian private equity firm EMR Capital and Zambia’s state-backed mining company ZCCM-IH, and has the potential to become “one of the world’s top-tier mines,” KoBold said.

Mingomba contains 247 million tonnes of ore with an average grade of 3.64 percent copper, according to KoBold, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify battery metal deposits.

The deal comes as the United States seeks to reduce its dependence on China by developing domestic electric vehicle battery manufacturing, and looks to Africa as an alternative source of battery metals.

KoBold’s investors include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a climate and technology fund founded by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and backed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Virgin’s Richard Branson.

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema wants to boost the country’s copper production to 3 million tonnes a year by 2032, from around 850,000 tonnes currently. As Africa’s second-largest producer of copper, Zambia is highly dependent on mining.

“KoBold has a reputation for moving fast,” Hichilema said. “I hope they develop the Mingomba Deposit faster than any company before.”

The deal, which will grant KoBold a majority stake in Mingomba, is set to close in the first quarter of 2023.


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