Deals in brief
US mining startup KoBold lands cobalt exploration area
KoBold Metals, the US-based mining startup backed by billionaire tycoons including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, has acquired rights to a roughly 1,000km2 area in northern Quebec.
KoBold Metals’ mission is to use data analytics to build a “Google Maps for the earth’s crust.” The company is primarily searching for battery metals such as cobalt, which are crucial to the electric vehicle revolution. Demand for battery-electric vehicles is set to soar this decade, as countries implement plans to reach net-zero carbon emissions and seek to move away from reliance on fossil fuels.
The area in northern Quebec sits near Raglan, a large nickel mine owned by Glencore. According to Bloomberg, KoBold is planning to use data-crunching algorithms to search for cobalt in the area – which is roughly the size of New York City. Successful exploration activities at the site could help KoBold demonstrate the value and viability of its novel approach.
Kobold Metals CEO Kurt House said that the company is likely to start collecting geophysical data in the next three to six months.
KoBold’s data-driven approach
Silicon Valley has a clear influence on how KoBold Metals operates; the company’s defining feature is its commitment to using “big data” to more effectively locate and explore deposits of battery metals. Deposits of metals such as lithium and cobalt have typically eluded traditional exploration methods, and analysts and industry figures largely accept that current production levels of the metals cannot meet the expected surge in demand as electric vehicles become more desirable.
The Silicon Valley approach has attracted, and been propagated by, a “coalition of billionaires”: Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and prominent billionaires including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Michael Bloomberg.
The startup is making a significant bet that there might still be significant undiscovered sources of cobalt, which can be efficiently mapped using KoBold’s combination of exploration and data analytics capabilities.
A “robust and ethical” cobalt supply
Cobalt is a useful metal for making high-capacity, fast-charging, long-life, and safe batteries – the kind needed for widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Around 70% of the world’s supply of cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a point of contention for some environmentally-minded, ethically-conscious enterprises in the electric vehicle industry. The DRC is a politically turbulent country with alleged corruption and human rights abuses.
KoBold is hoping to find and develop new, reliable, and ethical sources of cobalt to reduce electric vehicle manufacturers' reliance on the DRC, as well as increasing the global cobalt production to cope with the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.
RCT partners with Reliable Industries to supply smart mining equipment
Australia-headquartered global mining and industrial specialist RCT has announced a partnership with Reliable Industries, a US supplier of components, engines, and parts. The companies will collaborate on supply technology solutions for mobile equipment at mines around the world.
Canadian firm Endeavour Mining completes Semafo acquisition
Endeavour Mining has completed its C$1bn (approximately $735m) acquisition of gold miner Semafo.
The combined entity is expected to become one of the biggest gold miners in West Africa, with an annual production of 1Moz of the metal.
NQ Minerals takes possession of Beaconsfield gold mine in Australia
Base and precious metals producer NQ Minerals has signed all necessary agreements to acquire and take immediate possession of the Beaconsfield Gold Mine in Tasmania, Australia.
Two weeks ago, the company received approval from the Government of Australia for its proposed acquisition of the Beaconsfield mine.
Great Thunder acquires Southern Star property in Quebec
Junior Canadian mining exploration company Great Thunder Gold has closed the acquisition of the Southern Star property in Quebec, Canada.
The Southern Star property is made up of 145 claims covering approximately 8,100 hectares and is located 6.5km south of the Fenelon/Tabasco deposit owned by Wallbridge Mining Company.
Barrick sells stake in Shandong Gold for $210m
Canadian precious metals miner Barrick Gold has sold a partial stake in Chinese gold miner Shandong Gold Mining for $210m.
Barrick sold 79,268,800 shares of Shandong, priced at HK$20.50 ($2.65) a share. It now holds a stake of about 2.05%. Barrick bought the shares in the fourth quarter of 2018 at a cost basis of HK$10.50 a share.
Canadian miner Kinross reaches agreement with Mauritania government
Canadian mining firm Kinross Gold has signed an agreement with the Government of Mauritania, which, according to the company, will enhance the partnership of both the parties involved in the Tasiast gold mine.