Apple looking to buy cobalt direct from miners

Apple reportedly looking to buy cobalt directly from miners

Last year, Apple published a list of the companies that supply the cobalt used in its batteries for the first time, and said it would not let cobalt from small-scale mines in Congo into its supply chain until it could verify that the "appropriate protections" were in place. The challenge is that with the growth of electric and hybrid vehicles gobbling ever larger amounts of the metal, Cupertino fears a shortage that could hurt its sales figures. In the past, the company is reported to have unwittingly bought batteries containing cobalt mined using child labor.

A new report from Bloomberg details that Apple is looking to secure a deal that is set to last for at least five years.

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. 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. Bloomberg reports the company has been discussing the issue with miners for over a year, and the company has not yet decided whether it will proceed with a deal.

"We're not sure whether (Apple) want to buy the cobalt for the battery makers that supply them or whether they are planning to stand behind the cobalt supply chain as guarantors", a cobalt industry source said. BMW is also close to securing a 10-year supply deal with an unnamed supplier in February.

ECB freezes Latvian bank after laundering allegation
Deputy Governor Zoja Razmusa will fulfill Rimsevics's role while he's not at the bank, spokesman Janis Silakalns said. The governor, who's led the Latvian central bank since 2001, may be protected by the institution's independence.

Cobalt CBD0 prices on the London Metal Exchange, at around $80,000 a tonne, have climbed from near $20,000 in January 2016.

Apple has not responded to an Observer request for comment.

"In 2017, average annual cobalt prices more than doubled, owing to strong demand from consumers, limited availability of cobalt on the spot market and an increase in metal purchases by investors", the U.S. Geological Survey said in its annual report.

Further complicating matters, Apple and Samsung have both been put under scrutiny for procuring cobalt from mines where child labor was found to have been used. 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 a year ago alone. According to Amnesty International, about 20 percent of the cobalt mined in Congo is extracted by hand by informal miners including children, often in unsafe conditions.

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