Apple reportedly buying long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners
Apple reportedly buying long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners
Apple is one of the world’s largest end users of cobalt for the batteries in its gadgets
22 February, 2018, 00:44
Now it seems that Apple is concerned that the prices of Cobalt are getting out of hand and it is seeking contracts to buy several thousand metric tons of cobalt for five years or longer.
Bloomberg's source reported that Apple may not actually go ahead with a deal, as the parties involved are still only in the discussion phase.
"We're not sure whether (Apple) want to buy the cobalt for the battery makers that supply them or whether they are planning to stand behind the cobalt supply chain as guarantors", a cobalt industry source said. Auto makers like BMW and Volkswagen are also looking to ink multi-year deals that would secure a constant flow of the rare metal. An electric auto battery uses one thousand times more refined cobalt than a smartphone does, therefore meaning that it's actually the automobile industry which is taking up cobalt supplies. Apple has been trying to end child labor in mines that produce cobalt for the company and said it is working with non-government entities (NGOs) in the country to stop it. As it stands it has been estimated that a quarter of all cobalt production is used for smartphones, but that could change in the future.
The move to get more supplies of cobalt means the technology giant will find itself in competition with electric carmakers and battery producers to lock up cobalt supplies.
But Apple declined to comment.
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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.
So far, no major deals have been announced, although BMW's head of procurement told German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in early February that it was close to securing a 10-year supply deal.
Cobalt is now on the market for over $80,000 per metric ton and has more than doubled in price since 2016.
Ivan Glasenberg, the chief executive at mining firm Glencore, said late past year that Apple was among several companies that the Anglo-Swiss enterprise was talking to about cobalt, without giving further details. Apple has been in the talks with miners for more than a year. In the past, the company is reported to have unwittingly bought batteries containing cobalt mined using child labor. Much of that bumper 44% dividend payout is due to the spike in cobalt, which saw a 108% increase on the average price, from $12 a pound to around $25 a pound a year ago alone.
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