Electric vehicle market jumpstarts cobalt prices

22 February, 2018, 00:57 | Author: Juana Mckenzie
  • Apple reportedly looking to buy cobalt directly from miners

Having seen the metal triple in price to $80,000 United States dollars per ton over the last 18 months due increasing demand for cobalt in EV batteries, Apple is aiming to secure its own cobalt supply rather than relying on OEMs.

Bloomberg reports that it could be the first time that Apple buys cobalt directly from miners.

And, according to the sources, that's exactly it. Carmakers are also racing to lock up cobalt contracts as they prepare to make more electric vehicles.

Apple's reported move to buy cobalt directly from miners could bring efficiency to the Democratic Republic of Congo's troubled mining sector, but it will likely only muddle an already murky field.

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And its not like it's just a small amount of the material the iPhone flogger is looking to buy.

People familiar with the matter said Apple is trying "to secure several thousand metric tons of cobalt a year for five years or longer" in discussions that have been going on for more than a year.

Apple is not the only company seeking long-term cobalt supply deals: BMW has been seeking its own 10-year deal for its electric vehicle program. In response, for the first time a year ago, Apple released a list of all the companies from which it secures the supply of raw material.

In December, Swiss mining giant Glencore said it was in discussion with Volkswagen and Tesla to supply them with cobalt, according to managing director Ivan Glasenberg, quoted by Bloomberg.

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Amnesty International published a report in January 2016 about cobalt mines, saying that tech companies and auto manufacturers aren't doing enough to prevent child labor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - the country is responsible for 50 percent of global cobalt production. South Korea's top oil refiner, SK Innovation Co., agreed to a deal this week of $3.9 billion with Australian Mines Ltd. BMW is also close to securing a 10-year supply deal.

"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.

In recent years, Apple has stepped up its engagement with cobalt suppliers after the origin of the metal in its supply chain came under scrutiny from human rights groups.

The Bloomberg report said Apple was not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.

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