When it comes time to fret about minerals critical to the energy transition, lithium, cobalt, and nickel may get all the attention, but another metal is keeping plenty of analysts up at night.
Though those other minerals are key ingredients for batteries, copper is used across every sector that will be touched by electrification. Transmission wires, electric motors, inverters, and battery packs all rely on the 29th element.
“There’s no energy transition, no decarbonization without some critical minerals,” Ceibo CEO Cristóbal Undurraga told TechCrunch+.
But less than a decade from now, demand for copper is expected to outstrip supply by 6.5 million metric tons, according to McKinsey. That portends a 25% shortfall.
One answer to that dilemma is to find more copper buried in the earth and dig it up. But that costs a lot, takes a ton of time and damages the environment. A better approach is to extract more copper out of the mines we have today.
There are several ways to do that — bacteria is an option; more on that later — but the one that helped Ceibo dig up a $30 million Series B relies on tweaking a century-old process. The round was led by Energy Impact Partners with participation from existing investors Khosla Ventures and Aurus Ventures and new investors including CoTec Holdings, Audley, Orion Resources, Unearth, and Pincus Green.