A phalanx of billionaires are backing a new mining initiative in Greenland, in what they hope will boost access to minerals used to manufacture electric cars. It’s significant news in a country that has not always celebrated natural resource exploration. And it has some environmental scientists concerned.
The source of the billionaire money is an initiative founded by Bill Gates, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, whose investors include Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Jack Ma, Ray Dalio, and Michael Bloomberg.
Gates founded Breakthrough Energy in 2015 as a vehicle for combating climate change, and it has raised $2 billion to date, including a $1 billion funding round completed earlier this year. The organization has invested in dozens of startups in the sustainable energy space.
The Greenland project is a joint venture between a publicly traded British firm, Bluejay Mining, and KoBold Metals, an American company that is paying $15 million for a majority stake in the operation. Breakthrough Energy is one of KoBold’s principal investors; the venture capital mega-firm Andreessen Horowitz is also a backer.
KoBold says its use of artificial intelligence enables it to mine in a more environmentally friendly way. Through machine learning, it targets high quality ore deposits that require less intrusive methods to extract.