Billionaire-backed KoBold, Midnight Sun team up for Zambia copper discovery

The Northern Miner’s western editor, Henry Lazenby (L) moderates a panel with Midnight Sun Mining marketing and communications director Adrien O’Brien, and Kobold’s chief strategy officer, Daniel Enderton. Credit: Penda Productions

KoBold Metals, a US-based startup supported by high-profile investors such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, is venturing into Zambia’s rich copper belt. In February it partnered with Canada’s Midnight Sun Mining (TSXV: MMA) to explore the promising Dumbwa target within the Solwezi copper project.

This strategic alliance will leverage KoBold’s advanced data science techniques and Midnight Sun’s extensive local experience. The goal is for KoBold to earn a 75% stake in the Dumbwa target by investing $15 million in exploration and making $500,000 in cash payments over 4.5 years.

“Partnering with KoBold allows us to explore this vast property with the necessary capital and expertise,” Midnight Sun’s marketing and communications director Adrien O’Brien told The Northern Miner’s Energy Transition Metals Summit in Washington, DC in April. “Their tech-driven approach combined with our local knowledge creates a powerful synergy aimed at unlocking Dumbwa’s full potential.”

Kobold’s chief strategy officer, Daniel Enderton, lifted the lid on KoBold’s data-driven approach to mining during an April 30 session moderated by The Northern Miner’s western editor, Henry Lazenby.

“KoBold isn’t just targeting copper; we’re focused on all critical minerals and metals essential for the energy transition,” Enderton explained. “Our journey began about four years ago in Canada when we acquired rights to an area in northern Quebec, just south of Glencore’s (LSE: GLEN) Raglan nickel mine, where we identified lithium deposits.”

Backed by the billionaires’ interest in energy transition metals, KoBold invested $50 million in exploration last year, Enderton said.

Today, KoBold has 60 active projects in Africa, North America, Australia and Asia.

“Using artificial intelligence, our goal is to create a ‘Google Maps’ of the Earth’s crust, specifically to locate copper, cobalt, nickel and lithium deposits,” he said.

KoBold collects and analyzes data streams, from historical drilling results to satellite imagery, to gain insights into where new deposits might be found. “Our algorithms detect geological patterns that indicate potential deposits of cobalt, which is often found alongside nickel and copper,” he explained. “This technology allows us to identify resources that might have been missed by traditional methods and helps miners decide where to acquire land and drill.”

The summit ran in coordination with Precious Metals Summit Conferences.

Prospective copper belt

The Central African Copperbelt is one of the most mineral-rich regions globally, with high prospects for significant discoveries. The Dumbwa target is in Zambia’s Domes Region close to several large copper mines including First Quantum Minerals’ (TSX: FM) Sentinel mine, Barrick Gold’s (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD) Lumwana mine and Ivanhoe Mines’ (TSX: IVN) Kamoa-Kakula project just across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This region is a hotspot for copper exploration and production, making it a strategic location for KoBold and Midnight Sun Mining’s joint venture. For this reason, O’Brien believes the project holds significant discovery potential.

“Dumbwa is a 20-km-long soil anomaly with visible copper grades,” he said. “Partnering with KoBold allows us to explore this vast property with the necessary capital and expertise.”

Drilling will begin in the North American summer, with results expected by early fall.

Zambia: A mining hub

KoBold’s investment in Zambia underlines its confidence in the region’s potential, with six projects underway and plans for further expansion.

“Our investors believe in our data science approach,” Enderton said. “Their support allows us to invest through commodity cycles for sustainable growth.”

Both panellists praised Zambia’s mining-friendly environment, noting its strong infrastructure and skilled workforce.

“Zambia has a century-long mining history,” O’Brien noted. “Its infrastructure and workforce are second to none.”

Both partners are committed to sustainability and maintaining good community relations, working closely with local chiefs and communities.