Dublin, Thurs 18 March 2021: iCRAG, the SFI Research Centre for Applied Geosciences, today announced that it is expanding its research activities in critical raw materials with the addition of KoBold Metals as an industry partner.

Scaling production of electric vehicles, rechargeable batteries and consumer electronics demands increasingly large amounts of critical raw materials, particularly metals such as cobalt, copper, and nickel. Meeting renewable energy and emissions targets necessitates a move to greener energy sources, which can only be realised through increased exploration for and mining of such critical raw materials.

KoBold Metals, a mineral exploration company pioneering the use of machine learning and data analytics to increase the supply of critical raw materials, will work with iCRAG researchers to explore for critical minerals that are central to the green transition and decarbonisation. 

Professor Murray Hitzman, Director of iCRAG and SFI Research Professor in the UCD School of Earth Sciences, commented: “iCRAG is delighted to announce KoBold Metals as a new industry partner. The collaboration strengthens iCRAG’s internationalisation efforts, extends the Centre’s global reputation and provides partnership opportunities for companies based on the U.S. West Coast. Advancing the green transition is a central goal of iCRAG’s research activities, and this strategic collaboration with KoBold Metals enables our researchers to combine their expertise in geochemistry with the latest advances in machine learning to aid in the mineral exploration that is central to decarbonisation.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, welcomed the partnership, saying: “SFI Research Centres such as iCRAG are playing a leading role in helping Ireland to transition to a low carbon economy. International industry partnerships such as this grow the potential for research excellence and scientific discovery that can help lead us to a more sustainable future.”

Through this industry collaboration with KoBold Metals, iCRAG researchers will use the cutting-edge microscopy, geochemistry and spectrometry facilities in the iCRAG Labs at Trinity College Dublin to investigate minerals containing cobalt, as well as other elements often found proximity to cobalt, such as nickel and copper. In particular, the research project will focus on examining mineral samples from the Kisanfu Cobalt-Copper deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo to better understand how cobalt deposits form. The analysis will form the basis of machine learning techniques developed by KoBold to provide insight into the exploration of critical raw materials in similar deposits around the globe.

Kurt House, CEO and Co-founder of KoBold Metals, commented: ““Stopping climate change requires fully electrifying the global automotive fleet, which in turn requires mining a lot more critical EV material such as nickel, cobalt, lithium, and copper. By better understanding how high grade deposits of these metals form, we will be better equipped to make exploration decisions and increase discovery success rates.”

This announcement delivers continued research and development momentum for KoBold Metals, which recently announced a partnership with Stanford University’s Center for Earth Resource Forecasting to develop a new artificial intelligence agent to improve the efficacy and efficiency of battery metal mining and exploration. The addition of KoBold Metals as an industry partner to iCRAG furthers the strong industry-academia links that exist between iCRAG and industry partners across the mineral exploration field.