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The material that Bezos, Elon Musk and Bill Gates are investing in

The three billionaires are seeking, through the company KoBold Metals, to secure the supply of cobalt, important for making electric car batteries.

Cobalt highly prized for electrifying the future
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If there is one thing Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Elon Musk (Tesla, and now also Twitter) have in common, it is that they have money, heaps of money. In addition to all three owning tech companies, they now also have another common business: cobalt. KoBold Metals, a mineral exploration company in which they all have a stake, has announced that it will drill in Greenland for materials used in electric vehicles, such as cobalt and nickel.

These elements, known as the minerals of the future, have become highly prized. The company relies on artificial intelligence and machine learning to find them. Last year, KoBold took a 51% stake in the Disko-Nuusuaq project on the West Greenland seabed. To do so, they will use drones to conduct a high-resolution magnetic survey of the area.

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The objective is to drill about 3,000 meters this year, at depths between 150 and 400 meters, where these metals are found. Specifically, cobalt has in recent years become a vital component in the transition to a greener, more environmentally friendly world.

Price of cobalt soars

This is why, as a result, its value has soared: from $29,000 per metric ton in July 2020 to $82,000 today. It’s not for nothing, it is present in many of today’s hi-tech products: making up around 30 percent of lithium-ion batteries found in products ranging from iPhones to Tesla cars. And by the end of this decade, the market for electric vehicles and consumer electronics is expected to triple.

The problem, now, is that there is not infinite supply. And it’s something that comes into direct conflict between the major powers, especially between China and the United States over economics. “The objective is to target massive nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum group metals,” Bo Steensgaard, CEO of Bluejay Mining which operates the project, told Reuters.

Nickel rises in price because of the Russia’s war in Ukraine

Another sought-after mineral, nickel, which is used in stainless steel and electric car batteries, has risen in price. In fact, it has doubled following President Vladimir Putin’s sending his military into Ukraine. Russia supplies about 10% of the world’s needs for this metal “The recent unfortunate geopolitical developments clearly show that the Western world needs new deposits of these critical metals,” Steensgaard asserts.

Related: Elon Musk fears for life after Russian threat

Funding in the millions

KoBold has significant financial backing behind it, thanks to a contribution from Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s leading venture capital funds. In 2019, this allowed it to have funding available for four years. Since then, it has been carrying out explorations at various locations, including Greenland.

Forecasts of increased demand could grow investments in exploration, in turn attracting new projects. “To accomplish that lofty goal we must accelerate our efforts to find the key materials for the electric vehicle revolution,” explains Kurt House, KoBold CEO.