“Apple may be cutting out the middleman in its acquisitions of cobalt, the glittery blueish-gray mineral that’s essential for the iPhone and iPad’s lithium-ion batteries, Bloomberg reports,” Aaron Mak writes for Slate. “Rather than entrusting its battery-suppliers with the cobalt purchases, Apple is for the first time considering deals to buy several thousand metric tons of the mineral straight from miners annually for at least the next five years.”

“Why are battery components and how Apple buys them interesting? Because both tell us a lot about the growth in an another area of the technology industry: electric vehicles,” Mak writes. “Apple is concerned that the burgeoning EV market threatens to consume a large percentage of yearly cobalt production. Fears that car manufacturers will elbow in on the market partly stems from the fact that, while phone batteries only require eight grams of cobalt, electric car batteries require more than a thousand times more. The coming EV boom may leave little for smartphone production, which currently uses a quarter of the world’s annual supply.”

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