Bill Gates-Backed American Mining Start-Up Eyes Expanding Into DR Congo
© AP Photo / SCHALK VAN ZUYDAMDiamond miners work in a mine in Mbuji Mayi, Congo, Monday, July 31, 2006.
© AP Photo / SCHALK VAN ZUYDAM
The DRC has attracted the interest of multinational mining companies for its rich deposits of natural minerals such as cobalt and copper. The demand for these minerals is surging due to the global trend toward renewable energy. Copper is extensively used in clean energy technology, while cobalt is essential for most lithium-ion batteries.
KoBold Metals, a mining startup backed by Bill Gates, is currently engaged in a copper project in Zambia. The company is now aiming to broaden its operations in the African region, with a particular interest in acquiring a field in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which borders Zambia to the north.
Kurt House, the CEO of KoBold, revealed that the company had already made a bid for an asset in the DRC, and although the transaction fell through, he did not disclose the specific details about the asset.
"We think it is probably the best place in the world for the types of materials we're looking for," House told Western media.
KoBold Metals specializes in exploring different regions of the world to find new deposits of metals that play a crucial role in the global transition to green energy.
The DR Congo is recognized as the world's largest producer of cobalt and a major source of copper, along with other mineral resources. With demand for both materials projected to increase over the next decade due to their essential role in clean energy infrastructure and rechargeable batteries, Congo offers significant opportunities.
The CEO of KoBold expressed the company's intent to broaden its operations in Africa, specifically in Congo. This decision aligns with the US administration's policy objectives, which aim to foster American investment across the entire electric vehicle supply chain.
Notably, KoBold Metals has high-profile backers, including Bill Gates, who is an investor through his Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund. Other notable investors include Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Michael Bloomberg and BHP Ltd, the world's largest mining company by market value.
According to a recent report by Amnesty International, a world-renowned human rights organization, Western copper and cobalt mining in the DR Congo has been violating the rights of the local population. The NGO said that large-scale industrial projects by cobalt and copper giants in the country are displacing residents in resource-rich towns such as Kolwezi in the southern province of Lualaba.
"The people living in the region should be benefiting from the growth in mining. Instead, many are being forced out of their homes and farmland to make way for the expansion of large-scale industrial mining projects," the report said.