Is this Startup the Gamechanger for Energy Transition Metals?

Last Updated: 19. Dezember 2023By

Identifying new deposits is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. This has two important reasons that you as an investor should definitely know.

First: The demand for critical raw materials increases drastically in the course of the energy transition. Without these basic substances, ecological technologies such as wind turbines, solar panels, heat pumps or electric cars are not imaginable. Secondly: Many ore deposits have already been discovered or even exploited near the surface worldwide. The industry therefore needs to literally dig deeper to get to the important resources.

KoBold Metals: Billionaires and large corporations on board An American startup wants to kill two birds with one stone. Perhaps you have already heard of the company KoBold Metals in the media. The California company was founded in 2018 and is one of the most sought-after startups in the world. Through several financing rounds, KoBold’s valuation has now risen above the $1 billion threshold.

But it is above all the names of the supporters that give the young company a lot of attention. The most prominent financiers of KoBold include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Virgin founder Richard Branson and Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

In addition, large corporations are also involved in supporting the startup. These include: the resource giants Rio Tinto and BHP, the oil and gas giant Equinor and the powerful conglomerate Mitsubishi. And last but not least, the startup is supported by scientists – for example from researchers at NASA or Apple. No other company on this planet combines exploration with such a large R&D budget and such enormous scientific expertise.

KoBold wants to take Lithium into account A few days ago, KoBold has now sharpened its strategy and caused a sensation again. In an interview with the news agency Reuters, CEO Kurt House emphasized an expansion of activities in the area of lithium. So far, KoBold has had success with the search for nickel and copper in Quebec and Zambia. Now lithium should be placed in the focus.

Specifically, CEO House wants to search for lithium in Africa in particular – for example in Namibia or the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, exploration should in principle be extended to all continents. But the manager does not seem to be satisfied with the search for raw materials alone. KoBold will develop the respective mines itself and become the largest supplier of critical metals in the next 10 to 15 years. This may sound overly ambitious at first glance. But if you recall the market situation, the financing of the company and, not least, its technology, this goal could at least be within the realm of possibility.

Energy transition: The world needs new sources of raw materials In fact, there is a major gap around the energy transition metals that KoBold wants to close. Many large mining companies are currently focusing more on streamlining their processes than investing in new mines, given the macroeconomic obstacles. Of course, there are many junior miners around the world who are forcing new projects. But their financing is often on the edge.

At the same time, the prospective demand for energy transition raw materials is extremely high. So the world urgently needs new sources of raw materials – and above all new methods for identifying and developing deposits. KoBold sees itself here as a savior in distress.

How KoBold looks for raw materials The company relies on artificial intelligence for its exploration. First: KoBold collects all available data on the chemical and physical properties of the earth’s crust. From these highly fragmented and inconsistent information, the company then creates a structured dataset – using machine learning and AI. According to the startup, the system that is continually improving can minimize the uncertainty factors in each exploration step.

That means: Thanks to the processing of large amounts of data by artificial intelligence, more reliable statements about possible deposits can be made, which are partly located deep under the earth. On the one hand, this reduces the investment risks of the mining industry and, on the other hand, in the event of success, the system helps to counteract upcoming shortages of raw materials.

In the graph published by KoBold, you can see the mineral resources found in the last decades for the example of nickel, lithium and copper:

Source: KoBold Metals (

It is clearly visible that the findings in the 20th and so far in the 21st century mainly related to the upper layers of the earth’s crust (solid circles). With the help of AI, KoBold now wants to explore and exploit the deeper areas (dashed circles).

My conclusion for you KoBold Metals, in my opinion, has the potential to help significantly with the upcoming challenges around the energy transition. The support that the young company receives is certainly noteworthy and unparalleled in the exploration sector.

If you want to invest in this story as an investor, however, you have to take a detour. Because: KoBold is currently not listed on the stock exchange. Whether there will be an IPO in the near future given the strong financing remains to be seen. For example, you can indirectly participate in the emerging company through the BHP share. The Australian resource giant supports KoBold Metals financially and operationally. In return, BHP gets the perspective of being involved in new mining projects thanks to the California company’s AI solutions.