Apple believed to be trying to deal with cobalt miners

Apple believed to be trying to deal with cobalt miners

Apple believed to be trying to deal with cobalt miners

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.

Negotiations are said to be in a preliminary stage, which means Apple may end up deciding not to go ahead with a deal, the article says.

Apple is one of the planet's largest hoarders of cobalt, but until recently, it has purchased it via its battery manufacturers. Auto giants like BMW and Volkswagen are also searching for multiyear deals to ensure they also have enough cobalt to meet targets in electric vehicle production.

Apple has previously left cobalt buying to the companies that produce its batteries. Apple is now competing against global carmakers to acquire enough cobalt for their future products. Volkswagen reportedly tried to lock deals with cobalt suppliers by treating them to meetings in a 30,000-seat stadium in their corporate hometown in Wolfsburg, Germany. South Korea's top oil refiner, SK Innovation Co., agreed to a deal this week of $3.9 billion with Australian Mines Ltd. BMW is also close to securing a 10-year supply deal. On it's part, Apple declined to comment on the issue.

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Ivan Glasenberg, the chief executive at mining firm Glencore, said late a year ago that Apple was among several companies that the Anglo-Swiss enterprise was talking to about cobalt, without giving further details. Relying on anonymous sources, Bloomberg reports that Apple is in talks to buy long-term supplies of the metal.

If there is a shortage, Apple will have nothing to fear because it would have already secured a hefty supply of the element in the first place.

The price of cobalt has more than tripled in the past 18 months to trade at more than US$80,000 a metric tonne.

Tenke's mines contains one of the world's largest known deposits of copper and cobalt. Cobalt is a key component of smartphones batteries, and it's estimated that each smartphone uses around eight grams of refined cobalt. About 60 percent of the world's cobalt supply comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and about 20 percent of it is mined by hand by children, Amnesty International reported in 2016. 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 previous year alone.

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