Bloomberg found that Apple is talking directly to cobalt miners to secure the supply of this key ingredient in its batteries. It is the first time the iPhone maker wants to purchase the mineral from miners, which suggests there are solid fears of an incoming shortage.
The key element in every lithium-ion battery is in heavy demand as the electric vehicle industry will need more of it in the future.
Apple is one of the planet’s largest hoarders of cobalt, but until recently, it has purchased it via its battery manufacturers. The recent report suggests that the tech giant is seriously concerned that cobalt supplies for its gadgets would run dry.
There is a growing demand for the mineral coming from electric cars which run on lithium ion batteries, but now around 25% of cobalt production is bought by smartphone companies.
Apple is reportedly trying to ensure that thousands of tons of cobalt will be bought directly from suppliers annually in the following five years. Apple has been in the talks with miners for more than a year. It is unclear if the deal will get through.
World Running Out of Key Ingredient in Batteries
Apple declined to comment on the report. Last year, it confirmed that it was discussing the matter with a large cobalt miner, Glencore Plc.
Plug-in electric vehicles need the rare mineral for their lithium-ion batteries, as well. Cobalt has been at the center of several heated debates over the years as the largest supplier of cobalt is the Republic of Congo, where even children work as miners.
Also, it is unclear if the African country’s cobalt supply will last long enough to match California’s and other U.S. states’ ambitions to replace diesel-powered vehicles with electric ones.
What’s more, not only Apple is racing to secure its cobalt supplies. Car makers like BMW and Volkswagen are also looking to ink multi-year deals that would secure a constant flow of the rare metal.
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