Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Ha! Alaska Energy Metals sells exploration data to Bezos/Gates/Andreessen-Backed KoBold Metals

We've been keeping tabs on Kobold for years. As mentioned in the intro to a non-mining post on AI, June 2023's "Experts expect major companies are developing chatbots trained on internal data for company use." (META)":

This is one of the reasons for our long-standing dubiosity re: Andreessen/Bezos/Gates-backed  KoBold Metals. What are they training the AI on? The people who have the mining information to run the machine learning programs are the mining companies and that information is as closely guarded as the gold in Fort Knox. 

BHP has been an investor in KoBold for the last two years and they may be giving up some data to train the 'puters but what you want is all the mining knowledge in the universe so you get those serendipitous connections that wouldn't occur to a human being and that they don't yet have....

The headline story from Global Mining Review, November 30:

Alaska Energy Metals Corporation has announced the partial sale of its previously purchased exploration data to a subsidiary of KoBold Metals Company, an exploration and mining company out of Silicon Valley known for its innovative use of machine learning and artificial intelligence in mineral exploration.

The data pertains to KoBold’s Skolai Project, which runs adjacent to AEMC’s Nikolai Nickel Project in the Interior Alaska region.

Alaska Energy Metals Corporation President and CEO commented: “We are pleased to recover some of our costs from the large exploration data set we bought earlier this year. KoBold owns claims that neighbour our Nikolai Nickel Project and I am confident they will put the data to good use. With it, it should accelerate their exploration efforts. We wish KoBold success in their search for magmatic nickel-copper sulfide deposits on their claims. Any discovery success in this emerging nickel district will benefit Alaska Energy Metals and Alaska generally.”

Earlier this year, Alaska Energy Metals acquired an extensive data package produced by prior explorers of the district, some of which now pertains to claims held by KoBold. AEMC has sold the relevant data to KoBold for US$175 000. The data has been clipped approximately to the boundaries of KoBold’s Skolai claim block and includes:

  • Rock sample assay results (>1000 samples).
  • Soil sample assay results (>2300 samples).
  • Stream sediment samples assay results (>250 samples).
  • Drill core assay results and core logs (13 drill holes).
  • ZTEM and VTEM airborne geophysical surveys.
  • Geological maps.


GMR home

The need for both training data and data for analysis is one of the reasons we noted what seems to be a quiet Andreessen move: go into Create-a-corp mode. In Kobold's case it was to buy into an existing copper mine. June 2023:

Andreessen/Bezos/Gates-Backed Kobold Metals Raises Another $200 Million At Unicorn Valuation
....Additionally, CrunchBase News goes on to say this round will go toward the existing Zambian copper mine that KoBold is buying into. As discussed in our June 17 post the company had announced they were buying into the copper deposit using a portion of the earlier $192.5 million round. However, all money is fungible [except, note to Jon Corzine: Don't co-mingle the client funds] so who knows where it is directed and when.

....In what looks like an acknowledgement (without public acknowledgement) of  the failure-to-date of the technique to find metals, the company took a bunch of their loot and invested in a previously discovered copper-cobalt resource. From Reuters, December 14, 2022:

Billionaire-backed KoBold Metals to invest in Zambia copper mine

California-based exploration firm KoBold Metals, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify battery metal deposits, is investing $150 million to develop a copper mine in Zambia, the company announced at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.... 

This is a variation on a trick Mr. Andreessen used to save something, anything, from an an overfunded ($116 million) crypto sinkhole a16z portfolio company:

Andreessen Horowitz Investee Coinbase May Buy Andreessen Horowitz Investee Earn.com (né 21.co)
That's one way to exit.
Earn.com was not mentioned in April 4's "Crypto M&A: "Three Startups Coinbase May Have Its Eye On"" because it's such a Tesla/SolarCity-cousins-shouldn't-marry type of deal.

Yet here we are....

When Coinbase came public, the limited partner investors (and Mr. Andreessen) in 21.co were able to salvage their investment, even though 21.co added nothing, zilch, nada to Coinbase. And 21.co was never heard from again.

Here's an early post on Kobold:

May 2019
Bezos, Andreessen and Gates Looking For Cobalt In Canada

Not them personally, can you imagine? Tramping around northern Saskatchewan?

Jeff: Bill, does this rock look blue to you?
Bill: I can't see it, let me get my glasses.
Marc: Guys, have I told you all the things I've wanted to tweet since I quit Twitter?
Jeff and Bill: Oh Gawd
No, it's a company they're invested in....