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KoBold Metals, an AI-powered mineral exploration company backed by billionaires Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, is planning to commission the Mingomba copper and cobalt mine in Zambia within ten years, reported Reuters.

The California-based exploration company plans to invest roughly $150m to accelerate exploration work at the Mingomba project to uncover additional deposits.

KoBold Metals Zambia CEO Mfikeyi Makayi was quoted by Reuters as saying: “The additional studies [of the development] will be completed in 2024.

“It is a very attractive project and we have said within a decade we would want Mingomba to be a producing mine.”

KoBold Metals, which is supported by Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and BHP, is focused on using AI to find metals such as cobalt, nickel, copper and lithium, which are used in manufacturing electric vehicle batteries.

Makayi said: “They may not be your traditional, conventional backers, but the global need is so critical, it is basically a crisis. That is why the buy-in is there, for people to be willing to be with us for the long haul, that just shows the commitment to what we are doing.”

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As per KoBold estimates, the Mingomba mine holds 247 million tonnes of ore with an average grade of 3.64% copper.

Zambia’s ZCCM-IH and commodity investor EMR Capital also hold stakes in the Mingomba project.

By 2032, Zambia aims to increase its copper production capacity to three million tonnes per annum. It has approximately 850,000 tonnes per annum as of December 2022.

Makayi said KoBold will also explore mining opportunities in Botswana, Namibia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.