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a16z Podcast: The Search for the Secret Metal that Powers All Our Devices

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The exploration for and mining of certain metals has driven huge epochs of human civilization, from copper and iron to gold and diamonds. In this conversation, Kurt House, CEO and co-founder of KoBold Metals; John Thompson, professor of earth and geosciences at Cornell and longtime advisor to the mining industry; and a16z General Partner on the consumer team, Connie Chan, talk with a16z’s Hanne Tidnam all about why it is that cobalt is suddenly one of the most important metals on the planet.

Because this metal makes today’s best batteries, we have gone from little to enormous demand—with that demand expected to only increase. This conversation covers the way technology is transforming how we find cobalt, and the mining industry as a whole. Along the way we touch on the science behind why exactly it is that cobalt is so damn good in batteries; what we know about what makes cobalt as a metal ‘tick’, where it’s currently mined, and where it’s most likely to be found; what data and knowledge used to drive mining; and what the new data sources, technologies, and techniques are today, from geophysical/ geochemical data, to agricultural information, to old boxes collected over centuries in the basements and attics of mining cos…. all of this to satisfy the incredible spike of demand for this material, as we enter a new age of battery metals.