Billionaires Like Bill Gates Are Mining for Cobalt in Greenland. Are They Heroes or Villains? – by Caroline Delbert (Popular Mechanics – August 18, 2022)

With sea ice receding, billionaires want to mine Greenland for rare Earth metals to power batteries. It could be part of a climate solution … or “a perfect symbol for our dystopian times.”

Earlier this month, CNN published a piece provocatively titled “Billionaires are funding a massive treasure hunt in Greenland as ice vanishes.” In the story, reporter René Marsh explains that investors including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have helped fund an expedition to explore the mineral wealths of Greenland, a feat made easier by the ravages of climate change.

It inspired a ton of predictable responses about billionaires dancing on Earth’s grave. But the participating startup, KoBold Metals, says the materials it wants to mine—nickel and cobalt—will actually help us fight climate change more effectively. But can both takes be true at once? We spoke to a few experts to find out.

A Boon for the Battery Industry

Nickel and cobalt are key metals for the battery industry, which is expected to boom as our society decarbonizes everything from fossil fuel-powered cars to generators in favor of electrics.

In particular, nickel is a low-cost resource that has high energy density, meaning a particular amount of nickel can store more battery power than the same amount of another material could. Nickel is quite plentiful in nature, but most is still used to make stainless steel; an increased demand for batteries could squeeze the existing supply.

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