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1 Feb 2021

Transition Minerals Tracker: Global analysis of human rights policies and practices

Photo credit: Shutterstock.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre’s Transition Minerals Tracker is updated bi-annually to monitor the human rights policies and practices of companies mining six key commodities vital to the clean energy transition: cobalt, copper, lithium, manganese, nickel and zinc.

Extraction of these six minerals – core components for renewable energy technology – is expected to rise dramatically with the growing demand for these renewable energy technologies. Yet many of the companies producing these minerals are beset with allegations of human rights abuse.

This Global Update analyses ten years of allegations, from 2010 to 2020. A total of 276 allegations of human rights abuses were identified. Nearly half (49) of these companies have a publicly available human rights policy. Nevertheless, 51 of these companies have an allegation of human rights abuse – indicating a significant disconnect between policy and practice. Read the Global Analysis Update above.

The data demonstrates too often the production of these minerals is coming at the cost of frontline communities. The most common impacts are on communities and civil society organisations, and the environment, specifically water pollution and access to water. Go to the Transition Minerals Tracker to download the data and explore human rights allegations and impacts.

To learn more about the impacts of transition minerals on water access and sanitation, along with violations of custodial or traditional land and water rights read our case study Flood of abuse: The fight for water in search of renewable energy. Explore cases stretching from Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Chile and Russia, where affected communities are left asking whether promised economic or climate goals are worth their sacrifice. For more case studies on transition minerals in renewable energy technologies and their human rights impacts visit the Transition Minerals Tracker.

Human rights impacts are far reaching and variable. Overall local communities and workers are the most commonly affected stakeholders, though this varies in balance by region. Community impacts are more common in Central & South America and Asia, whereas worker impacts are more common in North America and Asia Pacific (which includes Australia). Public entities and the ecosystem are rarely cited as affected stakeholders.

Companies producing these minerals need to put in place stronger human rights policies and, more importantly, put these company commitments into practice on the ground.

Find out more

Transition Minerals Tracker

Tracking the human rights implications of the mineral boom powering the transition to a net zero carbon economy.

Press release

Human rights abuse cannot be the price paid for essential energy transition.

Flood of abuse

The fight for water in search of renewable energy has left many communities, stretching from Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Chile and Russia, asking whether promised economic or climate goals are worth their sacrifice.