Apple’s potential cobalt mining play is about more than money

“Recent reports that Apple is looking to procure cobalt, an essential component in smartphone batteries, directly from mining companies have highlighted a growing concern about the valuable metal’s impending supply shortage,” Natasha Turak reports for CNBC.

“But just as important as securing a supply of the limited resource may be what one expert calls a ’21st century factor’ — ethics and human rights,” Turak reports. “‘Apple is a buyer of batteries, not a buyer of battery components, and it’s a number of steps away from the raw materials side. So this is significant — the reason they’re doing it is supply chain visibility,’ Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Minerals, told CNBC. ‘They need to know that children have not been illegally mining where their cobalt is coming from.'”

“In terms of ethical versus cost concerns, ‘the simple answer is a combination of both,’ said Tony Southgate, head of strategic cobalt marketing at Eurasian Resources Group,” Turak reports. “‘There is a concern about availability, as the EV growth is very, very rapid. Concerns over the growth of EV will impact the availability of batteries, but also buying direct from large-scale miners can ensure the material is ethically sourced.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Both reasons for securing a cobalt supply – cost and ethics – are smart business.

The message is being delivered: Apple cares. People like buy from companies that they perceive to care…MacDailyNews, November 10, 2015

Why Apple wants its own supply of cobalt – 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. “As demand for cobalt rises, increasing attention is being directed at the DRC [58% of world cobalt production]. Cobalt mining in the country has been linked to human rights abuses — last year Apple temporarily stopped buying cobalt mined by hand in the DRC.”

    2. I know that Congo and Russia were major players, but I would never have guessed those three countries would be in the top ten. I did not even know that cobalt was mined in any of those places.

  1. The only thing that Wall Street is concerned about more than money is a company being able to dominate an industry by market share percentage and if Apple is able to grab a lion’s share of future cobalt resources, greedy investors will probably love that because it will mean more money for them in the future if Apple has control over such needed resources. What they won’t like is Tim Cook parading around lecturing about human rights and yet he’ll still be called a mega-company hypocrite.

    Unfortunately, big investors don’t have any concerns about ethics or human rights. They just want to know that a company can secure a particular market no matter what they need to do to get that position. I really can’t believe any big investor would care what or who they use to get that cobalt out of the ground. They’ve never cared about morality in the past so why would that change now. Wealthy people have always used the poor to gain more wealth.

    Sure, the watchdogs are going to be all over Apple and any human abuse blame will fall squarely on Apple’s shoulders if Apple tries to obtain cobalt supplies. Despite existing human right’s abuse before Apple gets into the mix, the human right’s activists are going to make sure Apple has to become a model company and all eyes will be on Apple while other companies continue to do their dirt under the watchdog’s radar.

    1. That’s right. Strict Capitalism is all about cornering resources, extracting wealth from them, and hoarding it, giving back to the commons only when it serves the bottom line. The environment, just ice, equality, and egalitarianism exists only on PR statements and BP ads on public radio/TV.

        1. The percentage of give back is based on a sliding scale: The more an individual Capitalist or a Capitalist corporation extracts, the more it must give back so that an extreme Capitalist would give back an extreme amount. Capitalist Bill Gates, for example, is giving back to the Commons by funding education and vaccinations, areas of his choice. A petty capitalist can simply donate to the Salvation Army.

  2. you have your own “sliding scale” of approved gifts of return. Giving to the Salvation Army is petty, or the one giving to the SA is petty?
    I imagine you might like to mandate; “From each according to his ability…?”

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