California-based metals exploration company KoBold Metals, backed by billionaires such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, has announced a significant copper discovery in Zambia. The Mingomba copper project is anticipated to become one of the world’s largest high-grade copper mines, comparable in scale and grade to the Kamoa-Kakula copper mine located just across the border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
KoBold Metals employs artificial intelligence to map the Earth’s crust, facilitating the identification of new deposits of crucial materials like copper, lithium, cobalt, and nickel. The company’s investors include notable names like Andreessen Horowitz, Equinor, BHP, and Breakthrough Energy, a fund founded by Bill Gates in 2015, with support from investors such as Ray Dalio, Richard Branson, Jack Ma, and Jeff Bezos.
Zambia, Africa’s second-largest copper producer, could experience significant economic benefits from KoBold Metals’ mining project, which aims to commence copper production within the next 10 years. Jito Kayumba, special assistant to the Zambian president on economic, investment, and development affairs, expressed enthusiasm about the discovery, stating that it holds phenomenal potential for the country.
The global race for critical minerals, driven by the growing demand for renewable energy and electric vehicles, has highlighted the need for a diversified and sustainable supply chain. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has cautioned that the current global supply of critical minerals falls short of the requirements for transforming the energy sector, emphasizing the geographical concentration of production in certain countries. China, Vietnam, Brazil, and Russia are identified as major players in rare earth reserves, adding urgency to the quest for new sources such as KoBold Metals’ copper deposit in Zambia.