Apple in talks to buy cobalt directly from miners

“Apple Inc. is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners for the first time, according to people familiar with the matter, seeking to ensure it will have enough of the key battery ingredient amid industry fears of a shortage driven by the electric vehicle boom,” Jack Farchy and Mark Gurman report for Bloomberg. “The iPhone maker is one of the world’s largest end users of cobalt for the batteries in its gadgets, but until now it has left the business of buying the metal to the companies that make its batteries.”

“The talks show that the tech giant is keen to ensure that cobalt supplies for its iPhone and iPad batteries are sufficient, with the rapid growth in battery demand for electric vehicles threatening to create a shortage of the raw material,” Farchy and Gurman report. “About a quarter of global cobalt production is used in smartphones.”

“Apple is seeking contracts to secure several thousand metric tons of cobalt a year for five years or longer, according to one of the people, declining to be named as the discussions are confidential,” Farchy and Gurman report. “The price of cobalt has more than tripled in the past 18 months to trade above $80,000 a metric ton. Two-thirds of supplies come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where there has never been a peaceful transition of power and child labor is still used in parts of the mining industry.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Demand for cobalt is only going to rise in the coming years.

As per conflict mining, Apple states:

Our commitment to people and the planet doesn’t stop at manufacturing. In 2010, we were one of the first companies to map our supply chain from manufacturing to the smelter level for tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold (3TG). In 2016, we completed our supply chain mapping for cobalt. We continue to publish a list of our 3TG smelters, and this year the list also includes our cobalt suppliers. For the second year in a row, 100 percent of our identified 3TG smelters and refiners are participating in independent third-party audits. And 100 percent of our cobalt smelter and refiner partners are participating in third-party audits. In 2016, we removed 22 smelters from our supply chain. We will continue to remove those who are unable or ultimately unwilling to comply with our high standards. Every year we deepen our influence throughout our supply chain as we push for higher social and environmental standards.

Read more here:

Apple promises to one day stop mining minerals to make iPhones – April 20, 2017
Apple continues supply chain transparency as Trump administration considers suspending conflict mineral requirements – March 27, 2017
Apple takes groundbreaking steps to combat deadly trade in conflict minerals – April 1, 2016
Apple says they’re making progress eliminating conflict minerals – February 12, 2015
Where Apple gets the tantalum for your iPhone – February 5, 2015
Greenpeace praises Apple for reducing use of conflict minerals – February 13, 2014
Apple confirms suppliers use conflict-free minerals – February 13, 2014


    1. A more accurate analogy would be securing crude oil (cobalt) production to provide to petroleum refineries (battery manufacturers) that supply your airline fleet (electronic products) with fuel (batteries).

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