Apple Seeks To Lock in Supplies of Cobalt, a Key Battery Component

As more and more people use portable electronics and switch to renewable energy systems and electric cars, the global demand for lithium-ion batteries is expected to rise to new heights. However, one component in particular could create a bottleneck for battery and device manufacturers: the metal cobalt.

Concerned about maintaining its supply of batteries for iPhones, iPads, and other devices, Apple is reportedly looking to lock in its long-term access to cobalt by securing the metal directly from miners. That strategy is a result of "industry fears of a shortage driven by the electric vehicle boom," according to a Bloomberg article today citing "people familiar with the matter."

Of all the materials that go into lithium-ion batteries, cobalt is the one at greatest risk of supply shortages, researchers reported last year. Cobalt mining has also been linked to child labor and other human rights abuses in places such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, which produces more than half of the world's supply of that metal.

No Comment on Confidential Talks

Apple is "one of the world's largest end users of cobalt for the batteries in its gadgets, but until now it has left the business of buying the metal to the companies that make its batteries," according to today's Bloomberg report. The company reportedly began negotiating directly with cobalt mining firms more than a year ago, the publication said, adding that an Apple spokesperson declined to comment on those talks.

In the meantime, other companies, such as BMW, Samsung, and Volkswagen, are also working to lock in supplies of cobalt for batteries.

"Apple is seeking contracts to secure several thousand metric tons of cobalt a year for five years or longer, according to one of the people, declining to be named as the discussions are confidential," Bloomberg reported. "Its first...

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