Published: Wed, February 21, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Apple in talks to buy cobalt directly from miners

Apple in talks to buy cobalt directly from miners

In order to ensure quality and long-term delivery of its products Apple, the iPhone maker, is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt for iPhone batteries directly from miners, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing sources. Cobalt is key in the production of the lithium-ion batteries found in phones, laptops and tablets.

Apple may be looking to ensure it has adequate supplies of an essential ingredient of its iPhone batteries.

This could also lead to potential shortages, especially in the face of greater demand, thanks to the rise in electric cars, but Apple has plans to try and keep themselves stocked. Its first discussions on cobalt deals with miners were more than a year ago, and it may end up deciding not to go ahead with any deal, another person said. On average, smartphones use about eight grams of cobalt for each battery, but the battery for an electric vehicle requires over 1,000 times more. The demand for cobalt pitches Apple directly against some of the biggest names in the automobile sector such as Volkswagen and BMW, as well as battery manufacturers such as Samsung.

The cobalt Apple uses at the moment comes from Congo and it does get a lost of criticism because the labour used in such mines suffer from appalling conditions and use child labour. Darton, however, feels that the share would drop because of the growth in the auto sector.

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The price of cobalt has more than tripled in the past 18 months to trade above $80,000 a metric ton.

What's more, not only Apple is racing to secure its cobalt supplies.

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

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