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BHP has partnered with exploration technology company KoBold Metals in the hunt for Western Australian metals and critical minerals to be used in clean energy technology.

The Silicon Valley-based start-up has been backed by major venture capitalists and entrepreneurs including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Michael Bloomberg.

KoBold chief executive officer Kurt House said the alliance would combine KoBold’s technological expertise with BHP’s extensive knowledge of the Australian landscape.

“BHP has the highest standards for operational excellence and unparalleled troves of data from more than 130 years as a mining industry leader,” House said.

“Combined with our Machine Prospector technology, BHP and KoBold will work to identify new sources of the critical raw materials needed for the electric vehicle and renewable energy revolutions.”

KoBold’s Machine Prospector analyses large datasets which are initially compiled using its TerraShed technology. BHP hopes these innovations can uncover ore resources deeper than previously explored.

BHP Metals Exploration vice president Keenan Jennings said the company was open to all kinds of new technologies if they led to Australia’s next big metals discovery.

“Globally, shallow ore deposits have largely been discovered, and remaining resources are likely deeper underground and harder to see from the surface,” Jennings said.

“We need new approaches to find the next generation of essential minerals, and this alliance will combine historical data, artificial intelligence and geoscience expertise to uncover what has previously been hidden.”

The partnership was inspired out of BHP Ventures, which seeks out up-and-coming businesses like KoBold and taps their true potential in the resources sector.

BHP Ventures head Mark Frayman said KoBold ticked all the boxes as a promising partner for BHP.

“We are excited to partner with KoBold. Their powerful platform combined with our in-house capabilities and datasets could unlock an enduring competitive edge as we grow our options in future-facing commodities like copper and nickel to meet increasing global demand,” Frayman said.