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Apple in talks with miners to secure long-term cobalt supplies

About a quarter of global cobalt production is used in smartphones, but electric vehicles are claiming an increasingly bigger piece of the pie, threatening to create a worldwide shortage

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The price of cobalt has more than tripled over the past year or so to more than US$80,000

US tech giant Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners for the first time, according to reports.

The US$870mln company is one of the biggest end-users of the metal, which is a key battery ingredient for a lot of its products, including its popular iPhones.

Until now it had left the business of  buying the metal to its suppliers which make the batteries, but according to Bloomberg it is looking to secure several thousand tons of cobalt for five years or longer.

Apple wants to protect supplies of the metal as the rapid growth in demand for electric vehicles and their batteries - which cobalt is also used in - threatens to create a worldwide shortage of the raw material.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported that the company first began tentative discussions with miners last year, adding that Apple is still exploring its options and may end up deciding not to go ahead with any deal.

READ: Is Cruz set to be the most active junior cobalt company on earth?

Should the firm press on, it will pit itself directly against car giants BMW and Volkswagen, as well as battery producers such as Samsung - all of which are also racing to sign multi year deals to ensure they have a steady and sufficient supply of cobalt.

Wednesday's news will be welcomed by a host of miners and their investors; from UK giant Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN), which had already hinted it was in discussions with Apple, right through to juniors such as Cruz Cobalt Corp (CVE:CUZ) and Sienna Resources Inc (CVE:SIE).

Apple shares gained 0.7% to US$173.12 shortly before the opening bell in New York.

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