Aluminum   $ 2.1505 kg        |         Cobalt   $ 33.420 kg        |         Copper   $ 8.2940 kg        |         Gallium   $ 222.80 kg        |         Gold   $ 61736.51 kg        |         Indium   $ 284.50 kg        |         Iridium   $ 144678.36 kg        |         Iron Ore   $ 0.1083 kg        |         Lead   $ 2.1718 kg        |         Lithium   $ 29.821 kg        |         Molybdenum   $ 58.750 kg        |         Neodymium   $ 82.608 kg        |         Nickel   $ 20.616 kg        |         Palladium   $ 40303.53 kg        |         Platinum   $ 30972.89 kg        |         Rhodium   $ 131818.06 kg        |         Ruthenium   $ 14950.10 kg        |         Silver   $ 778.87 kg        |         Steel Rebar   $ 0.5063 kg        |         Tellurium   $ 73.354 kg        |         Tin   $ 25.497 kg        |         Uranium   $ 128.42 kg        |         Zinc   $ 2.3825 kg        |         
Image source: pixelied.com / pixabay.com

A recent report from the U.K.-based Business and Human Rights Resource Center sheds light on a concerning trend accompanying the global push for low-carbon technologies. As nations like the United States and Europe increasingly pivot towards renewable energy sources, the demand for critical minerals used in electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels has surged. However, this transition is not without its consequences. The report highlights over 400 allegations of human rights abuses across 16 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia over the past five years. These allegations are linked to the extraction, smelting, and refining of metals and minerals essential for the energy transition, such as copper, zinc, uranium, and iron.

The surge in demand for these minerals has led to a market worth $320 billion in 2022, according to the International Energy Agency. To meet the ambitious goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, production of these materials will need to increase six-fold by 2040. Many of these resources are located in some of the world’s least-developed countries, where environmental regulations and labor protections may be lax.

The report identifies numerous cases of alleged abuses, ranging from health and safety concerns for workers to environmental pollution. In Russia, which holds significant reserves of rare-earth minerals, over 100 allegations were recorded, including instances of workplace accidents and toxic pollution. Similar issues were reported in other countries like Armenia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, where inadequate safety measures and environmental contamination have sparked community protests.

One concerning trend highlighted in the report is the close ties between extractive companies and political elites. In several countries, oligarchs with political connections own or control major mining operations, potentially influencing regulatory oversight and accountability mechanisms.

Despite the gravity of these findings, the report suggests that the documented allegations may only scratch the surface due to repression and censorship in some of the countries studied. Independent journalists and human rights defenders face obstacles in investigating and reporting on abuses, leading to underreporting of incidents.

The report’s authors call for increased transparency, community consultation, and respect for human rights in the extraction and processing of energy transition minerals. They emphasize the importance of ensuring that the transition to renewable energy promotes shared prosperity and fair treatment of workers and communities.