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13 Dec 2021

Global Witness

Renewable energy at what cost? A closer look at DRC’s nascent lithium sector

"Renewable energy at what cost? A closer look at DRC’s nascent lithium sector", 13 December 2021

Our investigation into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s nascent lithium industry reveals serious governance, environmental and social risks that could undermine the sector if left unaddressed.

DRC is home to globally significant deposits of hard-rock lithium. The mineral is considered critical to renewable energy technologies as a key component of batteries. Estimates are that global lithium demand could grow up to 40-fold by 2040, driven by richer nations' efforts to decarbonise their economies. According to industry literature, lithium production is planned to begin in DRC as soon as 2023.

Key Findings

Our investigation looked at a sample block of 51 mining concessions, concentrated close to the town of Manono in southern DRC, where hard-rock lithium deposits have been discovered. Three companies – AVZ Minerals Limited, Critical Resources Limited and Tantalex Resources Corporation – have publicly announced plans to carry out lithium exploration or production at mining concessions in the area. [...]