Blackwater founder Erik Prince aims to raise as much as $500 million to invest in metals needed for making the batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs), the Financial Times reports.
Prince, who besides starting the controversial private security company is known for have been an informal campaign adviser to US President Donald Trump, said the fund will bring unexplored deposits into production and then sell them to large miners after four to five years.
The fund will focus mainly on cobalt, copper and lithium assets located mainly in Africa and Asia, Prince told FT.com.
“For all the talk of our virtual world, the innovation, you can’t build these vehicles without minerals that come from generally weird, hard-to-access places,” he said.
Metals such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and copper have seen demand soar in recent years as the shift away from cars powered by fossil fuels gains momentum and mining companies are investing billions of dollars into developing deposits of those key commodities.
Experts expect the need for lithium from battery makers alone to jump 650% by 2027, while overall demand is forecast to rise more than threefold in the next nine years.
Prices, however, are projected to drop in the early 2020s as a result of an ever-rising number of projects expected to come online.
Prince sold Blackwater in 2010, after it was hit with a series of lawsuits. Since then, he’s been running Frontier Services Group, which provides integrated security, logistics and insurance services in frontier markets and is backed by Hong Kong investor Chun Shun Ko and China’s CITIC Group.
Frontier has also invested in a bauxite mine in Guinea, and identified a copper and cobalt deposit in the Congo.
Prince’s sister Elisabeth Dee DeVos is Trump’s education secretary.