Mining: Global analysis of human rights policies and practices
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre’s Transition Minerals Tracker monitors the human rights policies and practices of companies mining six key commodities vital to the clean energy transition: cobalt, copper, lithium, manganese, nickel and zinc.
Extraction of these six minerals – core components for renewable energy technology – is expected to rise dramatically with the growing demand for these renewable energy technologies. Yet many of the companies producing these minerals are beset with allegations of human rights abuse.
Between 2010 and 2020 a total of 276 allegations of human rights abuses were identified. Nearly half (49) of these companies have a publicly available human rights policy. Nevertheless, 51 of these companies have an allegation of human rights abuse – indicating a significant disconnect between policy and practice.
The data demonstrates too often the production of these minerals is coming at the cost of frontline communities. The most common impacts are on communities and civil society organisations, and the environment, specifically water pollution and access to water. Read our 2021 Global Analysis to take a closer look at the data, allegations and impacts.
To learn more about the impacts of transition minerals on water access and sanitation, along with violations of custodial or traditional land and water rights read Flood of abuse: The fight for water in search of renewable energy. Explore cases stretching from Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Chile and Russia, where affected communities are left asking whether promised economic or climate goals are worth their sacrifice.
Human rights impacts are far reaching and variable. Overall local communities and workers are the most commonly affected stakeholders, though this varies in balance by region. Community impacts are more common in Central & South America and Asia, whereas worker impacts are more common in North America and Asia Pacific (which includes Australia). Public entities and the ecosystem are rarely cited as affected stakeholders.