Electric auto boom prompts Apple to get serious about securing cobalt

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It can be recalled that in March 2017, Apple announced that it would stop buying hand-mined cobalt in the Congo following reports of child labor and unsafe work conditions. About a quarter of global cobalt production is used in smartphones.

Apple aims to secure contracts for several thousand metric tons of cobalt each year for five year or more, the news agency reported.

Apple's 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.

After previously obtaining cobalt through intermediaries, Apple for the first time is in communications with cobalt miners to build long-term partnerships, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. It's apparently due to concerns over shortages caused by the recent boom in electric vehicles, and it's hardly surprising considering the iPhone maker is one of the world's largest end users of cobalt as it uses it in all of its device batteries. Because Apple makes the single most popular phone model on the planet, it gets the brunt of the criticism.

"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.

Microsoft is turning off push notifications for Windows Phone 7.5 and 8.0
Windows Phone 8.0 platform was the company's attempt to wrest a piece of the mobile pie away from rivals; iOS and Android . Even corporate vice president for Windows Joe Belfiore said that he had switched to Android.

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

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

The price per ton of cobalt rose to $82,000 on the London Metal Exchange in mid-February, its highest level since it began tracking the commodity in 2010, and has nearly tripled in value since the beginning of 2016.

Cobalt is a byproduct of copper and nickel mining, used until recently to harden steel and before its ability to efficiently conduct electricity was discovered.

In a report in early 2016, Amnesty International alleged that Apple and Samsung Electronics' Chinese suppliers were buying cobalt from mines that rely on child labour.

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