Dealflow | June 5, 2023

Chile’s Ceibo digs up $30 million for more efficient copper mining

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, June 5 – Copper is the unsung hero of decarbonization, an essential element for transmission wires, electrical wiring in buildings and EVs. A shortage looms as copper miners are forced to dig deeper to extract the mineral, where concentrations are lower and extraction more expensive. Global demand for copper is expected to outstrip supply by more than 7 million tons by 2031.

Ceibo, based in mineral-rich Chile, has developed a leaching process that can extract three times as much copper from ore than conventional processes, breathing new life into existing mines that might be idle due to lack of economic viability.

“No new plants or facilities need to be constructed. We don’t need more water or electricity,” Ceibo’s Cristóbal Undurraga told Climate Tech VC in an interview. Another benefit: the technology allows for on-site production of the final product. 

Greening mining

The exploding demand for copper, lithium, cobalt and other minerals has heightened the need for more sustainable mining practices. A group backed by the U.N. and Principles for Responsible Investment in January launched the Global Investor Commission on Mining 2030 to address mining’s social and environmental impacts, including child labor and impacts on local communities and biodiversity. 

Ceibo’s $30 million Series B round was led by Energy Impact Partners and a group of tech and mining investors. “The looming copper supply shortage will quickly become a major bottleneck to electrification,” said EIP’s Shayle Kann,  “and we think Ceibo has the right team developing the right technology to be the leader in solving this problem.”

The Santiago-based company will use the funding to scale its technology, including a prototype plant followed by a demonstration plant with a mining company.