Bloomberg: Apple Is Negotiating the Purchase of Cobalt Directly From Miners

Jack Farchy and Mark Gurman, 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.

Normally, this is the kind of supply chain rumour that would put me to sleep halfway through reading the headline, but there’s a good reason why I’m sharing this.

You may remember a report from a couple of years ago about persistent child and illegal labour in the cobalt mining industry. After the Washington Post ran that story, Apple began treating cobalt similarly to the way they treat conflict minerals like tin and gold. By buying directly from the miners, Apple now has the opportunity to transparently verify the source of the cobalt they use.