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KoBold: Using Machine Learning To Find EV Battery Minerals — CleanTechnica Podcast, Part 1

In the first half of this episode of our Cleantech Talk podcast interview series, Zachary Shahan, Director and CEO of CleanTechnica, and Josh Goldman, cofounder and CFO/CTO at KoBold Metals, sit down to talk about mineral exploration. You can listen to the full conversation in the embedded player below. Below that embedded SoundCloud player is a brief summary of the topics covered, but tune into the podcast to follow the full discussions.

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Zach describes KoBold Metals as a unique young company already seeing major investments from notable names like the Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Equinor, and sporting a team of dozens of PhDs in the battery, statistics, mathematics, and physics fields. The mineral exploration company’s team makeup is unique relative to other exploration companies, Josh explains, because the majority of the team are data scientists and software engineers.

KoBold, as he explains, is tapping into the need for trillions of dollars worth of minerals in order to be able to transition light-duty vehicle fleets to electric vehicles. Josh says that KoBold was founded to tackle the challenge of discovering new critical resources for batteries. With interesting new developments in exploration techniques, the team leverages data in a more effective way to find new signals of ore deposits. Put simply, KoBold is using innovative technology to guide mineral exploration.

Zach and Josh dive into the mineral exploration timeline, from identifying the deposits to setting up mines. Josh talks through the process, explaining just how challenging it is to even build a case and collect the data to justify drilling in a specific area. The two also explore how the increasing demand for these minerals would require an even greater effort to ensure they are sourced sustainably.

There are some questions Zach is particularly interested in: Will there be a supply crunch? How will the market meet this demand? And what is KoBold doing that is so special to hasten the discovery process?

Josh says that we will not see a 100% market share of electric vehicles in 2030 — for sure — because we do not have the raw materials to supply that shift and the battery supply chain will not be able to respond quickly enough to that demand. Josh sees KoBold, however, as hastening the discovery process and helping to meet this demand when automakers start producing more electric vehicles.

Josh wraps up the first half of this episode by sharing more specifics about the data collection process and how KoBold trains their models to predict the location of ore deposits.

To hear more on these topics, listen to the show!

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Written By

Winter is a Cutler Scholar and undergraduate student double majoring in Environmental Studies and Journalism at Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College, with a minor in French. Her academic interests include environmental communication, technology and social innovation, especially as they relate to international climate change mitigation and adaptation. Though Winter attends school in her hometown of Athens, Ohio, she takes advantage of her breaks to explore the world beyond. She spent her most recent break undertaking self-driven research on climate change and environmental justice in Southeast Asia. This year, she will be completing her dual thesis and supplementary documentary series on climate change communication. Winter is excited to contribute to and work with the team at CleanTechnica as a Summer Editorial Intern.


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