Home » Bezos and Gates Join Forces to Hunt for Lithium in Four Continents

Bezos and Gates Join Forces to Hunt for Lithium in Four Continents

KoBold Metals aims to discover new sources of lithium for electric vehicles and renewable energy.

by Motoni Olodun

A mining startup backed by two of the world’s richest men, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, is on a global quest to find lithium, a key ingredient for electric vehicles and renewable energy.

KoBold Metals, a California-based company that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to explore critical metals, has launched an ambitious four-continent search for lithium deposits in the US, Canada, South Korea, Australia, and Africa.

Lithium is a silver-white light metal that is used to make lithium-ion batteries, which power electric vehicles, smartphones, laptops, and other devices. Demand for lithium is expected to soar in the coming years as governments and consumers shift to cleaner and greener forms of energy.

According to a report by Fortune Business Insights, the global lithium market size was valued at $37.8 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from $22.2 billion in 2023 to $89.9 billion in 2030 at a compound annual growth rate of 22.1%.

However, finding and extracting lithium is not easy. Lithium is often found in brines, salt lakes, or hard rock deposits, which require complex and costly methods to process. Moreover, most of the world’s lithium supply is concentrated in a few countries, such as Chile, Australia, China, and Argentina, which pose geopolitical and environmental risks.

That’s where KoBold Metals comes in. The company, which was founded in 2018, aims to use its cutting-edge technology to discover new sources of lithium in underexplored regions while minimizing the environmental impact of mining.

KoBold Metals uses a combination of data science, geoscience, and cloud computing to analyze vast amounts of geological information and identify promising areas for exploration. The company claims that its technology can reduce the cost and time of exploration by up to 90%, compared to traditional methods.

The company has already secured exploration rights in northern Quebec, Canada, where it discovered a lithium prospect earlier this year, challenging previous assumptions about the lack of economic lithium deposits in that area. The company has also acquired about a dozen exploration properties through joint ventures with industry giants like BHP and BlueJay Mining.

KoBold Metals’ co-founder and CEO, Kurt House, said that the company’s mission is to create a new supply chain for the electrification of transportation and the decarbonization of the grid.

“We are building the technology platform that will enable the discovery of the world’s next generation of ethical, low-carbon sources of lithium and other battery metals,” he said in a statement.

KoBold Metals is not the only company that is looking for lithium in unconventional places. Another startup, E3 Lithium, is developing a project in Alberta, Canada, that aims to produce lithium from oilfield brines. The company says that its technology can extract lithium from the wastewater that is generated by oil and gas operations while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption.

The quest for lithium is also attracting the attention of governments and investors, who see it as a strategic resource for the energy transition. In January, the US government approved the Thacker Pass mine in Nevada, which is expected to become the largest source of lithium in the country. The mine is owned by Lithium Nevada Corporation, a subsidiary of Lithium Americas, which is also backed by Bill Gates.

Meanwhile, KoBold Metals has raised $100 million from a group of high-profile investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund led by Bill Gates that focuses on clean energy innovation. Other investors include Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson, Jack Ma, Ray Dalio and SoftBank.

With such strong backing, KoBold Metals hopes to make a significant contribution to the burgeoning lithium market and the global fight against climate change.

“We are thrilled to have the support of some of the world’s most visionary leaders and investors, who share our vision of creating a more sustainable and prosperous future for humanity,” House said.

Source: Yahoo Finance


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