Gates-backed firm joins Bluejay on battery metals quest

The Disko-Nuussuaq project is located on the southwest coast of Greenland. (Image courtesy of Bluejay Mining.)

KoBold Metals, a start-up backed by a coalition of billionaires including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, has partnered with Britain’s Bluejay Mining (LON: JAY) to explore for critical materials used in electric vehicles (EVs) in Greenland. 

KoBold, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help find key minerals for green technologies, will pay $15 million in exploration funding for the Disko-Nuussuaq project on Greenland’s west coast in exchange for a 51% stake in the project, Bluejay said in the statement

Shares in Bluejay Mining skyrocketed on the news, trading up 25% in London at 11.64p by mid-day local time. This is the highest the stock has traded since February 19, when it hit 11.9p. It leaves the exploration company with projects in Greenland and Finland with a market capitalization of £113.23 million (about $157m). 

The Disko-Nuussuaq license holds metals such as nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum and KoBold’s funding will cover evaluation and initial drilling. 

BlueJay said previous studies have found that the area in western Greenland resembles the geology of Russia’s Norilsk region, a main producer of nickel and palladium. 

“This agreement is transformative for Bluejay,” Bluejay CEO Bo Stensgaard said. “KoBold is an organization with the heft and technical capability to grow this project to its full commercial potential.”

KoBold’s backers include big names such as Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The latter is financed by well-known billionaires including Michael Bloomberg, Ray Dalio, Richard Branson, as well as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. 

Not a miner 

KoBold, as its chief executive officer Kurt House has stated multiple times, does not intend to be a mine operator “ever.” 

The company is focused on searching for battery metals, a quest that began last year in Canada. It acquired rights to an area of about 1,000 square km (386 sq. miles) in northern Quebec, just south of Glencore’s Raglan nickel mine.  

KoBold aims to create a “Google Maps” of the Earth’s crust, with a special focus on finding cobalt deposits. It collects and analyzes multiple streams of data — from old drilling results to satellite imagery — to better understand where new deposits might be found. 

Algorithms applied to the data collected determine the geological patterns that indicate a potential deposit of cobalt, which occurs naturally alongside nickel and copper. 

The California-based firm also expects to bring in other investors, potentially including its current backers, on a deposit-by-deposit basis. It will also seek mining-savvy partners once it has identified an interesting project.