Under the partnership, the world’s biggest miner and Silicon Valley-based KoBold, a startup backed by Microsoft's Bill Gates and Amazon's Jeff Bezos, will jointly fund exploration programmes, initially in Western Australia
Anglo-Australian mining company BHP has partnered with AI exploration firm KoBold Metals to find new battery minerals in Australia and other countries.
KoBold, a startup backed by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, deploys machine learning and artificial intelligence for the exploration of raw materials.
Under the partnership, the world’s biggest miner and Silicon Valley-based KoBold will jointly fund the exploration programmes, starting in Western Australia.
KoBold CEO Kurt House told Reuters that the partnership will cover an area of over 500,000km in Western Australia.
BHP Metals Exploration vice-president Keenan Jennings said: “Globally, shallow ore deposits have largely been discovered, and remaining resources are likely deeper underground and harder to see from the surface.
“We need new approaches to find the next generation of essential minerals, and this alliance will combine historical data, artificial intelligence, and geoscience expertise to uncover what has previously been hidden.”
The alliance will use AI technology to explore metals like cobalt and nickel, which are used in the manufacture of batteries.
KoBold’s technology, built by using data-crunching algorithms, helps mining companies to make decisions on land acquisitions and drilling sites.
The partnership between KoBold and BHP is expected to enable access to exploration databases built up by the Australian miner over many years.
House was quoted by Bloomberg as saying: “In Western Australia, there’s extensive information. A lot of this data is dark data – it hasn’t been used more than once.”
The other investors in KoBold include Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and Norwegian oil company Equinor.
House added that the discovery zones to be identified over the next 20 years will be located at depths of 200m to 1,500m.
Reuters quoted House as saying: “That’s the area that is very poorly explored (and) is likely to host a tremendous number of ore bodies.”
Currently, KoBold has partnerships across about 20 locations including Sub-Saharan Africa, North America and Australia, for exploration of copper, cobalt, nickel and lithium.
In August this year, the company signed a joint venture agreement with Bluejay Mining for the Disko-Nuussuaq project located on the southwest coast of Greenland.