Startups hitting the magical $1 billion unicorn valuation is not rare — however, it’s not usually a mining company.
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Nevertheless, Berkeley, California-based KoBold Metals pulled off the feat after a $195 million raise from a number of big-name investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, and Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
The new cash values the climate-tech startup at $1.15 billion.
KoBold Metals has tied two hot trends together for investors — artificial intelligence and alternative energy sources.
The company uses artificial intelligence to mine for valuable metals such as cobalt, copper, nickel and lithium used in the production of batteries for a variety of sectors, including electric vehicles. The startup has built a database about the Earth’s layers and uses algorithms to make predictions about where mineral deposits are around the world.
The company plans on using the new funding to develop copper reserves in Zambia. Last December, KoBold agreed to invest $150 million to buy a controlling stake in the large, undeveloped copper reserves.
It has 60 continuing exploration projects in North America, Africa and Australia, per the WSJ.
“The success rates of finding new deposits have been declining,” co-founder and CEO Kurt House told the WSJ. “It’s hard to see how in the current setup we’ll get sufficient discoveries in time without breakthroughs in technology.”
KoBold Metals isn’t new to big rounds. In February 2022, the startup closed a $192.5 million Series B, which included investment from Apollo Projects, Bond Capital, BHP Group and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
Founded in 2018, the company has now raised more than $400 million.
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