Apple considering buying cobalt directly amid booming demand

Apple in Talks to Buy Cobalt Directly From Miners Report

Apple is looking for a direct supply route to cobalt - a key ingredient for iPhone batteries - as the Cupertino tech giant expects a spike in competition for the mineral.

"During 2017, lithium-ion batteries used in portable consumer electronics still consumed around 72 percent of total cobalt consumed in (lithium-ion batteries)", Darton Commodities said, adding however that this share was likely to decline because of growth in the auto sector.

And, according to the sources, that's exactly it.

Apple said last March it would stop buying cobalt mined by hand in the Congo following reports of child labor and risky work conditions.

And its not like it's just a small amount of the material the iPhone flogger is looking to buy.

Sources claiming knowledge of the deal say that Apple wants to sign contracts that would secure several thousand metric tons of cobalt per year for five years or longer.

If a deal comes to fruition, it would be the first time Apple has secured its own supplies of cobalt for batteries.

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Apple chief executive Tim Cook said earlier this month that the company's active installed base reached 1.3 billion devices worldwide as of January, up 30 per cent from two years ago.

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.

DRC's near-monopoly position in cobalt mining has been fraught with ethical and economic issues, most notably child labor in the mines.

Cobalt is a byproduct of copper and nickel mining, used until recently to harden steel and before its ability to efficiently conduct electricity was discovered.

Rights group Amnesty International said past year about a fifth of Congo's cobalt production is mined by hand by informal miners including children, often in unsafe conditions.

Apple's business foresight will always give it an advantage in the industry, with the company reportedly being in talks in purchasing Cobalt directly from miners. 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 past year alone.

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