KoBold Metals, a California-based exploration company, is looking to accelerate the development of a new high-grade copper mine in Zambia, with an estimated cost of around $2bn, according to a Reuters report.

Supported by investors such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, the company is exploring the potential for partnerships to advance the project.

The Mingomba deposit, currently under further exploration by KoBold, has copper ore grades of approximately 5%.

This places it on par with the quality found at Ivanhoe Mines‘ Kakula deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to KoBold, the Mingomba deposit could represent the most significant Zambian copper discovery in a century.

Backed by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund with contributions from investors such as Richard Branson and Ray Dalio, KoBold utilises artificial intelligence to locate key minerals such as copper, cobalt, nickel and lithium.

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These metals are crucial for the transition to clean energy and the burgeoning battery electric vehicle market.

KoBold Africa CEO Mfikeyi Makayi indicated to the news agency that the mine development, including the sinking of shafts, is set to commence around 2027.

KoBold co-founder and president Josh Goldman added that the Zambian project’s substantial investment could be mitigated by leveraging existing infrastructure in the region’s copperbelt.

The company is also considering a public share listing within the next three to four years, Goldman told the news agency.

In addition to its Zambian interests, KoBold is open to forming partnerships at its other international projects.

The company collaborates with mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto on critical metal exploration initiatives in Australia and Canada.