By Tyler Durden
I January 2019
Erik Prince, the founder of private security firm Blackwater, plans to
raise as much as $500m to capitalize on the rush into metals required for
batteries used in electric cars, according to the Financial Times.
“For all the talk of our virtual world, the innovation, you can’t build
those vehicles without minerals that come from generally weird,
hard-to-access places,” said Prince, and adviser to president Trump and
brother of US education secretary Betsy DeVos.
Miners – particularly from China, have been pouring billions into the
metals as the electric vehicle industry expands, which include cobalt,
copper and lithium.
One of the largest investors has been China, with Chinese companies
buying stakes in deposits in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in
Chile this year. Mr Prince also runs a Hong Kong-listed security and
logistics company that is backed by China’s state-owned Citic Group
(says the) Financial Times
Prince says his new fund will focus on unexplored deposits which could be
brought into production and then acquired by larger mining companies, and
will look to offload its investments within four to five years.
“Chinese companies are not necessarily interested in the very upstream
exploration,” said Prince. “They want to buy something in production which
leaves that gap for us.”
More than 60 percent for the world’s cobalt supply originates from the
DRC, which has attracted major investments from Chinese companies
including Citic, Jinchuan Group and China Molybdenum.
Prince gained notoriety as the founder of Blackwater – the world’s most
famous private military contractor which has been targeted with lawsuits
alleging civilian deaths in Iraq, including a 2007 incident in Nisour
Square, Baghdad, where 17 civilians were killed and 20 injured after
Blackwater guards claim their convoy was ambushed. An FBI investigation
concluded that at least 14 of the 17 Iraqis were shot without cause.
Prince sold the company in 2010, which has changed names and is now known
Since parting ways, Prince has run Frontier Services Group, providing
logistics and security services to companies operating in risky or
unstable countries. For example, they provide anti-piracy support to
Somalia and security to oil firms doing business in South Sudan. The
company has also ventured into natural resources, however, after discovering a copper and cobalt deposit in the Congo, and investing in a
bauxite mine in Guinea.
A former Navy Seal who now lives in Abu Dhabi, Mr Prince’s strong
Chinese connections have helped with his mining investments. This year
his mine in Guinea secured an agreement to supply China’s state-owned
aluminium producer Chalco with bauxite.
Mr Prince, whose father sold automotive parts in West Michigan, said
carmakers will need huge amounts of minerals to fulfil their visions.
“When I see the R&D budgets of all the major automakers ploughing huge
money into hybrid or electric vehicles, I believe the demand curve for the
unique minerals that make up an electric car and battery technology will
be enormously high over the coming years,” said Prince.
Prince has been investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller over a
meeting with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of one of Russia’s sovereign wealth
funds, which the Blackwater founder said was a chance encounter for the
two to discuss trade and mineral wealth.