Over 50 organizations urge World Bank to prioritise human rights & environmental impacts in "climate-smart" mining

Over 50 organizations from around the world urged the World Bank to prioritize recycling, efficiency, circular economy, public transit, and other non-mining solutions in its "Climate-Smart" agenda. Citing multiple environmental and human rights impacts of current mining practices, the organizations argue the World Bank is putting mining company agendas and interests before protections to safeguard and benefit workers, communities and the environment. The letter concludes by noting that "[a]s a public financial institution, the World Bank has the responsibility to provide oversight to mining operations and impetus for improvements in mining practices."

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3 May 2019

NGO letter to World Bank regarding mining and renewable energy

Author: EarthWorks & MiningWatch Canada

The undersigned organizations support a just and rapid transition away from fossil fuels and... as new renewable energy infrastructure ramps up, we are concerned about the impacts of extracting minerals like copper, nickel, lithium and cobalt on communities, workers and ecosystems.  We have a timely opportunity to scale up our dependence on clean, renewable energy sources, while scaling back our dependence on dirty mining. Doing so will require a concerted commitment from businesses, financial institutions, and governments to... Boost Recycling and Minimize Toxicity...2) ensure Responsible Mineral Sourcing.... [and] Shift Consumption and Transportation... We share the World Bank’s concern that “significant challenges will likely emerge if the climate-driven clean energy transition is not managed responsibly and sustainably.” Yet we are also 2 concerned that the World Bank’s new “Climate-Smart Mining” Facility is seeking to promote new mining before promoting these other important solutions that must precede it. We urge the World Bank Group to prioritize recycling, efficiency, circular economy, public transit, and other non-mining solutions as the primary components of its “Climate-Smart” agenda... We urge you to ensure that the World Bank helps to build climate change solutions that puts communities, workers and the environment first.

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Article
29 April 2019

Earthworks releases report on the environmental and human impacts of rising mineral demand for renewable energy

Author: Earthworks, UTS ISF

"REPORT: Clean Energy Must Not Rely on Dirty Mining", 17 April 2019.

...Earthworks published new research detailing projected minerals demand to build the electric vehicles, solar arrays, wind turbines and other renewable energy infrastructure necessary to meet the ambitious goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and avert the most disastrous impacts of climate change. The research, conducted by the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), shows that as demand for these minerals skyrockets, the already significant environmental and human impacts of hardrock mining are likely to rise steeply as well. It shows the need for a broad shift in the clean technologies sector towards more responsible minerals sourcing... 

Research Highlights:

  • Under a 100 percent renewable energy scenario, metal requirements could rise dramatically, requiring new primary and recycled sources.
  • Clean technologies rely on a variety of minerals, principally cobalt, nickel, lithium, copper, aluminum, silver and rare earths.
  • Cobalt, lithium and rare earths are the metals of most concern for increasing clean tech demand and supply risks.
  • Batteries for electric vehicles are the most significant driver of accelerated minerals demand.
  • Recycled sources can significantly reduce primary demand, but new mining is likely to take place and new mining developments linked to renewable energy are already underway.
  • Responsible sourcing is needed when supply cannot be met by recycled sources.

...Doing so will require a concerted commitment from businesses and governments to dramatically scale up the use of recycled minerals, use materials more efficiently, require mining operations to adhere to stringent, independent environmental and human rights standards, and prioritize investments in electric-powered public transit...

Minerals extraction already exacts significant costs on people and the environment, fueling conflict and human rights violations, massive water pollution and wildlife and forest destruction...Earlier this year in Brazil, the collapse of two tailings dams at Vale’s Brumadinho iron ore mine killed hundreds of workers and local residents...“In Norway, the government tell us we have to sacrifice our fjords to mine copper for clean energy,” said Silje Karine Muotka, a member of the indigenous Sámi Parliament, which is fighting a mine proposal in their traditional reindeer herding grounds. “I recognize that we need materials for new technologies, but we should look for ways to get them that do not harm the environment or threaten native culture.”... [The report also refers to Renault, Connected Energy, Power Vault, First Solar, Tesla, Huayou Cobalt, BMW Group, Samsung SDI and LG Chem.]

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