A startup by the name of KoBold Metals is using big data analytics and modeling to create the equivalent of Google Maps of the earth’s crust with a very specific purpose: “to explore for new sources of ethical cobalt from reliable jurisdictions.”
Some 60 percent of the world’s cobalt, as a by-product of copper and nickel mining, is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which doesn’t exactly have an excellent track record in areas such as child labor, to mention just one. Calls for finding a more ethical way to source cobalt and other battery metals have been numerous, but until now, following them has been problematic because of the lack of alternatives.
However, the financial backers of KoBold Metals, among them Bill Gates, Ray Dalio, Jeff Bezos, and Michael Bloomberg, seem to believe technology has advanced sufficiently to make it possible to tap hitherto undiscovered cobalt deposits outside the DRC.
“What we’re building is basically Google Maps for the earth’s crust and below,” Bloomberg quotes Connie Chan, partner in Andreesen Horowitz, a venture capital find that has also invested in KoBold Metals, as saying.
The implications of this project, if successful, would be major. “People just haven’t looked for the stuff,” the chief executive of KoBold Metals Kurt House told Bloomberg. “There’s very limited history of exploration at all outside of piggybacking on nickel and copper deposits.”
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