As the world shifts towards renewable energy sources, the demand for minerals like lithium, cobalt, and nickel, essential for electric car batteries, is increasing. However, the process of locating and mining these critical minerals is costly and challenging. Addressing this issue, a Berkeley-based startup named KoBold Metals has harnessed the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline and facilitate the exploration process.
KoBold aims to transform mineral exploration into a data-driven and scalable science, with a specific focus on metals for electric car batteries. Rather than engaging in mining activities, the company focuses on identifying new deposits and then collaborates with mining companies, providing advisory services to enhance the extraction process.
One of KoBold’s key tools is its data system called TerraShed. This system consolidates and standardizes public-domain geoscience data that was previously scattered across various sources. These datasets range from maps displaying the composition of rock in specific areas to geochemical measurements of element concentration in rock or soil samples, as well as satellite imagery measuring the reflectance of minerals on the Earth’s surface.
TerraShed’s algorithms utilize these diverse datasets to facilitate each stage of the mineral exploration process, from discovering new deposits to constructing new mines. To make sense of this vast amount of data and aid decision-making, KoBold employs a tool called Machine Prospector. This tool employs machine learning models trained on historic geological data to analyze and interpret the information effectively.
KoBold’s approach is crucial considering that most easily accessible mineral deposits near the Earth’s surface have already been located. As we strive towards a renewable future, the demand for these minerals will only increase, making it even more challenging to discover new deposits.
Currently, KoBold is exploring more than 60 potential projects across three continents. By leveraging AI, KoBold is revolutionizing the mineral exploration process, making it faster and more efficient while supporting the transition to a sustainable energy landscape.