From Australia to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chile to Canada, sky-high demand for metals and minerals integral to a renewable energy solution is bound to cause both environmental and social damage.

Demand for minerals and metals used in electric vehicles. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Demand for minerals and metals used in electric vehicles. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Driven by demand for electric vehicle batteries and renewable energy infrastructure, the need for lithium, graphite, nickel, and cobalt, amongst others, is bound to explode.

In fact, the World Bank predicts that production of many of the minerals could increase nearly 500% by 2050. This growth is liable to cause ecological damage that would affect whole regions and watersheds.

“The narrative fostered by the mining industry is that any harm from the coming bonanza is the price of transitioning away from fossil fuels. However, to safeguard human rights, indigenous communities, and the environment, that narrative must be reframed, placing environmental and social justice ahead of profit,” says Boris Ivanov, founder of Emiral Resources, a global mining group that focuses on exploring, mining, and the production of earth’s mineral resources.

On the production end, current mining governance is inadequate, and laws and policies must be strengthened throughout the supply chain to prevent harm and establish real accountability. Ultimately mining interests must have the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous people and local communities before mining exploration or development begins. Moreover, environmental protection needs to be a priority and where mines are developed, and communities must retain control of the placement of mine wastes with mandatory assurances against contamination and mining disasters.