According to Bloomberg, the tech giant is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners.
And, according to the sources, that's exactly it.
While a lot of research is being done on alternatives to lithium-ion batteries for safety and environmental purposes, right now the majority of our electronic gadgets are powered using lithium-ion batteries and it is a reality that's hard to escape. Cobalt is used in making batteries that are incorporated in a wide-range of Apple devices, with the primary bread and butter of the company being iPhones.
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And its not like it's just a small amount of the material the iPhone flogger is looking to buy.
Apple is reportedly trying to ensure that thousands of tons of cobalt will be bought directly from suppliers annually in the following five years. An electric auto battery uses one thousand times more refined cobalt than a smartphone does, therefore meaning that it's actually the automobile industry which is taking up cobalt supplies. 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.
Other companies such as Samsung, BMW and VW are also racing to secure supplies, according to the report. "We're not sure of the volumes, but if they are looking for anything more than a couple of years, they might be disappointed". BMW is also close to securing a 10-year supply deal with an unnamed supplier in February. Its first discussions for deals took place a year ago, but another source told Bloomberg that Apple might not even go ahead with the plans.
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On it's part, Apple declined to comment on the issue.
"As a result, the global proven reserves of cobalt are dependent on the economic viability of the relevant copper and nickel mines", cautioned analysts at Natixis.
Rights group Amnesty International said previous year about a fifth of Congo's cobalt production is mined by hand by informal miners including children, often in risky conditions.
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"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.