Monday, 18 June, 2018

Apple looking to buy cobalt direct from miners

Apple may be looking to ensure it has adequate supplies of an essential ingredient of its iPhone batteries.                  James Martin  CNET Apple may be looking to ensure it has adequate supplies of an essential ingredient of its iPhone batteries. James Martin CNET
Terence Owen | 22 February, 2018, 00:34

Apple is rumoured to be buying long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners for the first time, according to Bloomberg, in a bid to secure long-term supplies - possibly for an electric auto project. But as electric vehicles are expected to rise in demand, Darton Commodities expects by 2030 a sixfold jump in battery-related cobalt production to 324,300 tons. They're now embarking on research and development of cobalt-less batteries as a strategy to hedge against rising cobalt prices.

In order to produce the millions of batteries needed for the next generations of iPhones and iPads, Apple is looking to acquire a few thousand metric tons of cobalt annually for at least the next five years.

Electric vehicle companies such as BMW and Volkswagen have been rushing to woo and procure long-term contracts with cobalt producers, according to Bloomberg.

Shares in Apple vaulted $1.65, or 1%, to $173.50, as the clock approached noon Wednesday. Vehicle makers like BMW and Volkswagen are also looking to ink multi-year deals that would secure a constant flow of the rare metal.

Declining to be named as the discussions are confidential, the source said that the firm is in first discussions on cobalt deals with miners were more than a year ago, and it may end up deciding not to go ahead with any deal, another person said.

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The Scottish Liberal Democrats called the figures "truly horrible". All the previous boasts of Scottish ministers have come undone.

The Bloomberg report said Apple was not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.

Now a new report reveals that Apple is attempting to secure Cobalt supplies by purchasing the mineral directly from Miners.

Two-thirds of supplies come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where there has never been a peaceful transition of power and child labour is still used in parts of the mining industry. Glencore Plc Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg late past year named Apple among several companies the miner was talking to about cobalt, without giving further details. Apple has plenty of reason to be concerned as smartphones and electric cars depend on the cobalt, the price of which has doubled in the past 12 months, according to market track InvestmentMine. Cobalt is also mined in China, Russia, Canada and Australia, but we guess that would be more pricey.

"The problem has nothing to do with the amount of cobalt in the ground but rather the number of mines now producing cobalt", said Trent Mell, CEO of First Cobalt Corp, the world biggest cobalt exploration company.

Over the years, the Cupertino, California-based company has faced the heat of human rights groups, which allege that Apple has kept its ethics at stake by sourcing supply from the mines involved in child labor.

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