California company backed by Gates, Bezos staking claims in Saskatchewan

An American startup whose search for cobalt for batteries is backed by some of the world’s wealthiest people, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, is staking claims in the northeast corner of Saskatchewan.

Public records show Faith in Gravity Holdings Inc., which is registered in British Columbia, staked its mineral claims this month. The holding company’s directors are the top three executives of California-based KoBold Metals.

Kobold Metals has raised money from the California venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz as well as Breakthrough Energy, a two-year-old fund backed by, among others, Gates, Bezos, Richard Branson and Michael Bloomberg.

In an interview, KoBold Metals CEO Kurt House said Saskatchewan is one of many jurisdictions across five continents the company is exploring in its search for cobalt to increase the supply and reliability of batteries in a changing world.

“We need to rebuild the world’s energy infrastructure completely within the next 50 years, and that requires an enormous amount of new materials, different materials than we’ve used in the past — in particular, battery materials,” House said.

Cobalt, which does not react to heat in the same way as other minerals, is used to stabilize and improve battery performance. Many in the industry believe it will become more important as electric cars and other battery-powered devices become more prevalent.

“All of this will push forward greater use and ultimately demand for battery materials,” House said.

Much of the world’s cobalt supply is a byproduct of nickel and copper mining, and the majority is sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, few companies have looked for deposits of the element on its own.

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