Apple is said to negotiate buying cobalt direct from miners

Apple is said to negotiate buying cobalt direct from miners

A Bloomberg report, citing an anonymous source, said the iPhone maker was seeking contracts to buy several thousand metric tonnes of cobalt for five years or longer. The talks began over a year ago but it's not certain that Apple will take a deal in the end.

"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.

Electric auto companies such as BMW and Volkswagen have been rushing to woo and procure long-term contracts with cobalt producers, according to Bloomberg. 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. 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.

Also, it is unclear if the African country's cobalt supply will last long enough to match California's and other USA states' ambitions to replace diesel-powered vehicles with electric ones.

So far, no major deals have been announced, although BMW's head of procurement told German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in early February that it was close to securing a 10-year supply deal.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Mining giant Glencore has named Apple as one of several companies it is talking to about future supplies.

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

Tenke's mines contains one of the world's largest known deposits of copper and cobalt.

Samsung, Apple's competitor, is resorting to recycling old batteries in any old mobile phones by extracting cobalt from them, according to Bloomberg earlier this month.

More than 60 percent of cobalt is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Africa, but more than half of the world's refined company chemicals that are used to build the batteries comes from China, according to a separate Bloomberg article from October.

Glencore Plc Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg late past year named Apple among several companies the miner was talking to about cobalt, without giving further details.