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. One source told Bloomberg that the iPhone maker first started the discussion on the cobalt deals past year, but that there are chances that talks may not go anywhere right now. Although Bloomberg has cited an anonymous source, the news of Apple looking to buy cobalt for their batteries makes a lot of logical sense.
It can be recalled that in March 2017, Apple announced that it would stop buying hand-mined cobalt in the Congo following reports of child labor and risky work conditions. Bloomberg notes that about a quarter of global cobalt production is used in smartphones and that Apple is keen to shore up its cobalt supplies to have enough for sufficient production of iPhone and iPad batteries.
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. Over the past eighteen months, the price of cobalt has tripled to more than $80,000 a metric ton.
What's more, not only Apple is racing to secure its cobalt supplies. Glencore, the mining multinational that operates in about 50 countries, has named Apple as one of the main customers it was talking to about cobalt, according to Bloomberg.
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About 62 per cent of the world's cobalt supply is now controlled by China, and more than 90 per cent of that comes from Congo, according to metals consultancy CRU.
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.
Cobalt is a metal that is used in the making of batteries for all types of devices.
In a report in early 2016, Amnesty International alleged that Apple and Samsung Electronics' Chinese suppliers were buying cobalt from mines that rely on child labour.