US company backed by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos brings AI to copper exploration

US company backed by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos brings AI to copper exploration

(Ecofin Agency) – Zambia has been attracting more mining investors in recent months. The country’s copper potential has a lot to do with it, while the red metal is essential for the energy transition, but the improvement in the business climate led by President Hichilema should not be overlooked.

California-based KoBold Metals announced this week an investment of USD 150 million for the Mingomba copper project in Zambia. The information was made public during the summit between African countries and the United States, organized from December 13 to 15 in Washington.

KoBold Metals wants to put new technologies, in particular artificial intelligence, at the service of the exploration of metals essential to the energy transition. It benefits from the support of investors such as the Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP and Breakthrough Energy, an investment vehicle supported by billionaires Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, and dedicated to projects in favor of the energy transition.

Copper is indeed essential to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, because of its use in several low-carbon energy production technologies such as photovoltaic panels and in the wind industry. Copper is also found in electric vehicles, the production of which is currently exploding with a view to eventually replacing vehicles with internal combustion engines.

Today’s investment is not about KoBold or ZCCM or Zambia, but all of these countries and the rest of the world as we grapple with climate change “Said Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema.

In the southern African country, KoBold has teamed up with Australia’s EMR Capital and state-owned ZCCM-IH to develop what could become one of the largest copper mines in the world. The Mingomba project would host 247 million tonnes of ore, grading an average of 3.64% copper.

The announcement of this investment, the details of which will be finalized in the coming months, is to the credit of the Hichilema administration. Elected in August 2021 as head of Zambia, the man was able to ease tensions between mining investors and the state, in particular by easing the “non-competitive” tax regime put in place by his predecessor Edgar Lungu.

Decisions whose fruits have been visible for a few months and which could enable Zambia to reach the objective of an annual production of 3 million tonnes of copper set by the current regime for 2032. With approximately 800,000 tonnes produced l last year, the country remains the 2th African producer of red metal, behind the DRC.

Emiliano Tossou

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