Apple to negotiate buying cobalt direct from miners

Laverne Mann
February 22, 2018

After previously obtaining cobalt through intermediaries, Apple for the first time is in communications with cobalt miners to build long-term partnerships, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. But as electric vehicles are expected to rise in demand, Darton Commodities expects by 2030 a sixfold jump in battery-related cobalt production to 324,300 tons. Cobalt's conducive properties made it an attractive component for rechargeable batteries. Bloomberg reports that smartphone batteries use around eight grams of refined cobalt, but a battery for an electric vehicle needs more than a thousand times that amount. Apple has around 1.3 billion existing devices, while Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has been bullish about the prospects for electric vehicles. The company is one of the largest users of cobalt, which is in the batteries of its devices, but until now the battery makers have bought the metal.

BMW is also close to securing a 10-year supply deal, the carmaker's head of procurement told German daily FAZ in early February. Bloomberg reports the company has been discussing the issue with miners for over a year, and the company has not yet decided whether it will proceed with a deal.

The Bloomberg report said Apple was not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.

But due to the exponentially growing demand for the metal, prices per metric ton of cobalt have more than increased threefold from between September 2016 and January 2018 to more than $70,000.

More news: Talk show host Wendy Williams taking time off for health reasons
More news: Florida Shooting: Suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz was 'investigated for cutting himself'
More news: Sevilla Star Warns Manchester United His Side Will Fight Like Animals

Talking to reporters in London last December, Glasenberg said the company had held talks with Apple, Tesla and Volkswagen as part of ongoing discussions with industrial clients. Apple has plenty of reason to be concerned as smartphones and electric cars depend on the cobalt, the price of which has doubled in the past 12 months, according to market track InvestmentMine.

Citing "people familiar with the matter", the report said the Cupertino giant is looking into buying more cobalt to ensure it will have enough of the key battery ingredient, in a move that sounds like it's scared its all going to run out.

Apple has increased its engagement with cobalt miners in recent years due to scrutiny from global human rights organizations.

Rights group Amnesty International said a year ago about a fifth of Congo's cobalt production is mined by hand by informal miners including children, often in risky conditions.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

Discuss This Article