Tech Giants Scramble To Secure Cobalt Supply

Apple believed to be trying to deal with cobalt miners

Apple may end up deciding not to go ahead with a deal, the report said, citing another source. It's apparently due to concerns over shortages caused by the recent boom in electric vehicles, and it's hardly surprising considering the iPhone maker is one of the world's largest end users of cobalt as it uses it in all of its device batteries. 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. While smartphones use around eight grammes of refined cobalt, the battery for an electric vehicle requires more than 1,000 times more.

Apple Inc is talking to major cobalt producers to secure supplies of the material vital for the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power its mobile phones, three cobalt industry sources said. Reports indicate that now about a quarter of all cobalt mined globally is used in smartphones and the demand for cobalt is expected to boom by 2030. 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. On it's part, Apple declined to comment on the issue. In response, for the first time previous year, Apple released a list of all the companies from which it secures the supply of raw material.

Apple and other major cobalt consumers are scurrying to access cobalt resources that are now limited-not because of the amount of ore available, but because mining companies can't get it out of the ground fast enough to keep up with everyday demand of rechargeable batteries.

Cobalt is now on the market for over $80,000 per metric ton and has more than doubled in price since 2016.

"The problem has nothing to do with the amount of cobalt in the ground but rather the number of mines now producing cobalt", said Trent Mell, CEO of First Cobalt Corp, the world biggest cobalt exploration company. In the past, the company is reported to have unwittingly bought batteries containing cobalt mined using child labor. 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.

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