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

Author: Earthworks, UTS ISF, Published on: 29 April 2019

"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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Related companies: BMW Connected Energy First Solar Huayou Cobalt LG Chem Powervault Renault Samsung SDI (part of Samsung) Tesla Motors Vale