Why Apple wants its own supply of cobalt

“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.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Which leads us to our next question, which you might also share, so start here:

Cobalt Stocks: What Investors Need to Know – Maxx Chatsko, The Motley Fool, February 21, 2018

Apple in talks to buy cobalt directly from miners – February 21, 2018
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. I agree. My initial reaction was that this had to be primarily about sourcing ethical supplies and traceability.

      If Apple deals directly with the miners, it can offer them good rates for their products in exchange for guarantees about the working practices. Middlemen would be removed from the process, so the miners should receive a better price, Apple would pay less overall, would have guaranteed supplies, but would have the ability to monitor exactly how the cobalt is being produced as part of the contract with the miners.

      It’s much like FairTrade deals for coffee beans or bananas. A large customer deals directly with the producers. Those farmers benefit and the customer knows that the farmers are not being unfairly exploited by middlemen.

  1. Battery progress is hard won. That’s been a consistent message in the 21st century so far. Anything to get-a-move-on, within reason, is welcome.

    What we really need (he mused) is EM resonance technology that can send a Cobalt resonance signal deep into the Earth then use detectors to triangulate the location of large Cobalt deposits.

    Then we need subterranean digging vehicles to travel through the Earth to the Cobalt deposits and retrieve them.

    I’ve been working on trans-dimensional vehicles that travel through matter without regard to gravity, navigating along specified EM wave lengths. But I haven’t worked out the kinks regarding how to the materialize and grab the Cobalt without intermingling the dimensionally resolved atoms of the vehicle with its earthly surroundings, resulting in total disaster. I’ll keep working on it. 😉

          1. I don’t understand why they’d pull it. Perhaps their news source didn’t like them reposting the information or the article didn’t provide adequate attribution. Anyway, I’m glad its published elsewhere.

  2. With all the cash Apple has in hand, they should just try to corner the cobalt market and make other companies pay heavily for it even if they can’t use it all for themselves. I honestly can’t believe Apple is really going to build electric cars to need all that cobalt. I just figured they need enough for all their usual mobile products for the next ten years or so. I just hope Apple actually does go after the cobalt market and as one analyst said, “Apple could save hundreds of billions of dollars.” That’s a lot of money to save.

    1. You have got to be kidding. After all the decades Apple fans whined about the monopolistic behavior from MS, you want Apple to act like a belligerent gorilla? Unbelievable

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