Home » Zambia Unveils Massive Copper Discovery, Set to Become Global Player

Zambia Unveils Massive Copper Discovery, Set to Become Global Player

KoBold Metals Unearths Potential World's Third-Largest Mine

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe
Zambia Copper Discovery

Zambia is poised to become home to one of the world’s largest copper mines, potentially ranking third globally, following a groundbreaking discovery by a startup backed by billionaire Bill Gates. Utilizing artificial intelligence to explore for essential materials crucial to the green-energy transition, San Francisco Bay Area-based KoBold Metals announced this week that its findings at the Mingomba project in Zambia far surpass existing operations in leading producer Chile in terms of copper grade.

President Hakainde Hichilema revealed the significant development in an interview outside Lusaka, the capital, stating, “It won’t be just the largest mine in Zambia, but it will be one of the largest mines in the world. Maybe one of the top three largest mines in the world.” Hichilema estimated that the mine would produce well over 500,000 to 600,000 metric tons when fully operational.

Comparing the potential of the Zambian mine to that of Kamoa-Kakula, developed by Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. and China’s Zijin Mining Group Co. in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, KoBold President Josh Goldman highlighted its significance. Kamoa-Kakula produced almost 400,000 tons of copper last year and is expected to reach a capacity of 620,000 tons annually.

Backed by investors such as Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which counts Gates and Jeff Bezos among its backers, as well as T. Rowe Price Group Inc., Bond Capital, Andreesen Horowitz, and Equinor ASA, KoBold has been conducting drilling operations at its Zambian permit for just over a year. The majority owner of Bloomberg News’s parent Bloomberg LP, Michael Bloomberg, is also an investor in Breakthrough, according to the company’s website.

The discovery holds immense implications for Zambia, according to Hichilema. With total copper production in Africa’s second-largest copper producer falling below 700,000 tons last year, a new operation with the potential to nearly double that figure could significantly contribute to Hichilema’s target of increasing national output to three million tons by 2031. While KoBold has not commented on potential production levels, estimates suggest that building a mine at the Mingomba project would cost approximately $2 billion.

“When we bring new mines like that, it means we are moving toward the three million tons,” Hichilema emphasized, underscoring the transformative impact this discovery could have on Zambia’s economy and the global copper market.

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