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Apple In Talks To Buy Cobalt Directly From Miners (bloomberg.com) 58

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Apple Inc. is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners for the first time, according to people familiar with the matter, seeking to ensure it will have enough of the key battery ingredient amid industry fears of a shortage driven by the electric vehicle boom. The iPhone maker 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. The talks show that the tech giant is keen to ensure that cobalt supplies for its iPhone and iPad batteries are sufficient, with the rapid growth in battery demand for electric vehicles threatening to create a shortage of the raw material. About a quarter of global cobalt production is used in smartphones. Apple is seeking contracts to secure several thousand metric tons of cobalt a year for five years or longer. Its first discussions on cobalt deals with miners were more than a year ago, and it may end up deciding not to go ahead with any deal, another person said.
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Apple In Talks To Buy Cobalt Directly From Miners

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe it's been asked, but cant old phone batteries be recycled into new ones. Sure, not one-to-one, but can't some old batteries get added to the new ones?

    If not, then this whole "renewable" energy thing is all for naught.

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @08:24PM (#56167043)

    A new cryptocoin that's being mined?

  • Are we sure it is miners and not minors? (also, one does not exclude the other)

    • Are we sure it is miners and not minors? (also, one does not exclude the other)

      Depending on where they mine it it might be a distinction without a difference.

      That said I'm pretty sure Apple would be sensitive to the PR shit storm that would erupt if they were found to be directly buying from child labor slaves. I'm also sure at some level they care about the problem but caring doesn't equal solving. Apple does have the resources to deal with it (they could buy the mine) if they are so inclined but it will be interesting to see how much they really care.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @09:22PM (#56167255) Homepage

    Want to reliable purchase primary products, don't buy the product, buy the producer. Apple should simply buy the required mine, in a safe, stable reliable location to ensure it always has supply. So https://investingnews.com/dail... [investingnews.com] buy a mine in either number 3 Australia or number 4 Canada or both. You have guaranteed supply and in fact in the mine does not have to be that profitable you can futz with supplies to screw your competitors and still get it at the original price, the capital return on your mining investment. Mines are not that expensive and owning a couple one in each of the most reliable countries, would give you supplies for decades even centuries, dependent upon mine size and how much you allowed to be sold beyond your own uses, none possibly. Interesting bank, a mineral bank, buying the estimated volume of in ground resource for future use, if you are cashed up, quite a solid capital investment. Buy the mine, not the mineral that comes out of the mine and of course contract out the mining itself, so much less hassle than doing it.

    • Actually, there are multiple mines in Idaho that would be cheaper.
    • Want to reliable purchase primary products, don't buy the product, buy the producer.

      That is quite absurd. Companies reaching way beyond core-competencies such as a tech company going into mining creates huge inefficiencies (reads: expense). Then you have to wonder and care about not only the cost of acquisition, what to do with the extra resource, or even the exact opposite: how big is the resources, is it enough going forward and are we just kicking the supply problem down the road by buying *this* chunk of rock.

      Let the expert do the things they do. Let them manage multiple mines, let the

    • You have guaranteed supply and in fact in the mine does not have to be that profitable you can futz with supplies to screw your competitors and still get it at the original price, the capital return on your mining investment.

      That's only true if your competition cannot get the product elsewhere. Roughly half the world's supply comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo [wikipedia.org]. And it's generally a bad idea to buy an asset that isn't profitable unless you have no other choice for strategic reasons. Its the same reason you can't buy an oil well and charge whatever price you want.

      Mines are not that expensive

      Where on Earth did you get that silly notion? Operating a mine is VERY expensive, Huge capital costs and even with a lot of automation a lot of labor c

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        The country that is the primary producer (DRC) is politically unstable and corrupt so it could make a lot of sense.

        That makes it even worse to own the mine. Think about it for a moment - the mine could be nationalized (you lose your mine). The country could decide you're a special snowflake, and pay up billions in bribes right now, etc.

        The government is too unstable to do business with, and tin-pot dictators really can change their mind at any moment, so what was once a secure supply can be suddenly a compl

  • Buy the mines with Tesla and other companies.
  • If so much cobalt is going to be used by the electric vehicle industry, wouldn't they also want a direct source if they themselves were entering that industry?

  • I think Tesla might have something to say about this.
    So what now, will we get a competitive bidding process to see who can monopolise the supply of lithium, cobalt, etc?
    Vertical integration going a little far, I fear.

  • Didn't mcdonalds start there own farms years ago so they could own the cattle? I'm surprised Apple with their billions hadn't thought of this before.
  • This appears to make sense both by itself and given Tim Cook's previous work with Apple's supply chain - like buying up inventory of many smartphone/tablet components. It could be an opportunity to address pollution and other issue with cobalt mining.

  • Excellent I have Cobalt Cryptocurrency to sell, been mining it for months on 100 GPUs. Oh, wait what? Mining?

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