Apple is reportedly talking to cobalt mines in an attempt to directly buy the precious metal. This comes as demand for lithium-ion batteries is skyrocketing, leading to a possible shortage of the vital ingredient in their construction.
The boom in electric vehicle manufacturer is said to be the primary cause of the change in plans for Apple. While smartphone batteries generally use about eight grams of cobalt, those in electric cars can easily use thousands of times more. Which has lead to major automotive manufacturers looking to secure their own supply.
Companies like BMW AG, Volkswagon AG, and Samsung SDI have all engaged in talks with cobalt mines for multi-year deals. All of which are planning to increase EV production to meet the expected demand over the next few years.
The price of cobalt has risen to over $80,000 (RM313000) per metric ton, and this latest race will likely only cause that number to rise. However, prices are not the only complication that these technology companies are facing.
Some two thirds of the world’s cobalt supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo; which is a relatively unstable state that often employs child labour. Apple has been attempting to steer clear of these mines. Seeing that it was accused by Amnesty International of buying raw materials from suppliers that use children in unsafe environments.