Erik Prince

Erik Prince

Frontier Services Group

Erik Prince is the latest to join the rush to find copper, cobalt and lithium which are crucial in the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries. His plan is to establish a $500m fund that will explore for mineral resources in Africa, and some places in Asia. Given that over 60% of world cobalt supply is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), you can see where the emphasis will be. Prince is already active. His Abu Dhabi-based Frontier Services Group mostly provides security and logistics to unstable jurisdictions such as Sudan, but latterly the company has been angling for resources. It invested in a bauxite mine in Guinea and discovered copper and cobalt in the DRC. The mine in Guinea secured an agreement to supply China’s state-owned aluminium producer Chalco with bauxite. According to Prince, Chinese companies don’t favour exploration so the new fund will – once resources have been discovered – build mines and sell them on to the Chinese after three to four years of development. If anything, the emergence of Prince’s ambitions underpin the extraordinary metals demand that is likely to be generated as the world’s economies increasingly embrace electric vehicle production. One potential hiccough could be the impact of an investigation by special counsel into a meeting Prince had with a Russian financier with direct ties to Vladimir Putin’s family in the weeks leading up to US president, Donald Trump’s inauguration.

“You can’t build those vehicles without minerals from generally weird, hard-to-access places.”

LIFE OF ERIK

A US Navy Seal lieutenant, Prince won fame and fortune with Blackwater USA, a private military contracting firm he founded which operated in Afghanistan and Iraq. The business was sold in 2010 leaving Prince to found Frontier Services Group which provides security in unstable countries, but has also dabbled in mining and exploration. Prince provided informal advisory services to Donald Trump during the US president’s successful election campaign. He is the brother of Betsy DeVos who is US Secretary of Education.