To tackle the climate crisis, we need to phase out fossil fuels and transition to other forms of renewable energy.
This has led to a dramatic increase in the global demand for what are known as transition minerals – such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper. These minerals are used in renewable energy technologies such as electric cars and wind turbines. According to the International Energy Agency, from 2017 to 2022, demand for lithium tripled, there was a 70% jump in demand for cobalt, and a 40% rise in demand for nickel.
These minerals are now at the centre of a geo-political powerplay, as countries look to power their energy transitions. Unscrupulous mining corporations and investors are looking to resource rich countries with vast deposits of potentially profitable minerals to secure their supply and make vast profits.
Our investigations into transition mineral extraction have revealed how mining corporations are complicit in corruption, human rights abuses and environmental destruction. In Myanmar we uncovered a toxic rare earth mining industry that was polluting landscapes and poisoning waterways. Last year we revealed how three emerging lithium mines in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) risk fuelling corruption, and causing a range of other environmental, social and governance problems for local communities. In the DRC, we uncovered evidence that a due diligence scheme appeared to be used to launder minerals that were linked to violent conflict and serious human rights abuses.
We want a transition to clean energy that is safe, just and equitable for all. We’re raising awareness of the damaging social, environmental and governance risks that affected communities face, where transition minerals are being irresponsibly and, in some cases, illegally, extracted.
We want greater transparency, accountability and governance of the mining industry. Mining corporations must be held accountable for any unethical practices that are perpetuating harmful environmental impacts, human rights abuses and existing global inequality.
And we’re calling on world leaders, policy makers and the extractive industry to listen to the voices of those most affected. The expansion of mineral production should benefit citizens of producer countries, not come at their expense.