Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Micheal Bloomberg: the new gold, cobalt and Eldorado where the Scrooge Scrooge look for it not in the Klondike but in Greenland. l that the three American billionaires are hunting for the rare mineral, used mainly in electronic equipment and in the production of batteries for electric cars, which has become crucial for the energy transition. Thanks to climate change melting glaciers, the planet’s largest island sandwiched between Canada, Iceland and the Arctic Ocean has caught the attention of visionary billionaires who are funding KoBold Metals, a Silicon Valley startup founded in 2018 and initially backed by The Gates and Bezos Breakthrough Energy Ventures Fund. Shareholders also include Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and Norwegian oil company Equinor.
Google maps of the earth’s crust
It is a mineral exploration company, which raised almost 200 million dollars last February and is conducting field investigations. KoBold harnesses artificial intelligence and uses data processing algorithms to build what are known as Google Maps of the Earth’s crust. The technology can identify resources that geologists may have missed and help decide where to buy land to drill. A team of thirty people including geologists, geophysicists, helicopter pilots and mechanics have camped in the area of the hills and valleys of Disko Island and the Nuussuaq Peninsula, convinced that rare minerals are found there. We are looking for a field that will be the first or second largest nickel and cobalt field in the world, Kurt House, CEO of KoBold Metalsh, which has partnered with publicly traded Bluejay Mining for exploration, told CNN. Italian Securities, London.
Greenland, a nation that is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, has under the ice one and a half million cubic tons of rare earths, a group of 17 chemical elements essential for the production of microchips, cell phones, computers, televisions, screens, electric vehicles and hybrids, turbines, magnets for wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, advanced composite materials. And to get his hands on it, in 2019, then-US President Donald Trump circulated the idea that Washington might have bought Green Earth (from the Danish name Grnland) from Copenhagen. Some Chinese companies had also proposed a series of projects, in particular the exploitation of a uranium and rare earth deposit in the south of the island, the Kvanefjeld. It also brings the economic rivalry between Washington and Beijing to Greenland.
The overwhelming power of China
The interest at stake is very high. The world’s largest producers of cobalt and lithium are Australia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and China, which control more than three-quarters of the market. Western governments moving toward green and renewable energy transitions have long been alarmed by Beijing’s growing control over lithium and cobalt supply chains. The Chinese quasi-monopoly is based on the substantial ownership of a large part of the mines in the Congo (which produce up to 62% of the world’s needs), through a refined system that, according to international analysts, collects apparently irrepayable loans for the African country, exploitation rights of the fields, presence of Chinese technicians and workers, export control and maritime transport. But Beijing has not stopped in Africa: it is studying a way to diversify the supply chain of the precious mineral, turning to the Jakarta authorities. In recent months, China’s Huayou Cobalt announced its intention to invest $1.28 billion in cobalt mining in Indonesia.
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