Responsible or Reckless? A critical review of the environmental and climate assessments of mineral supply chains
Lee, J., Bazilian, M., Sovacool, B. and Greene, S. (2020) Responsible or reckless? A critical review of the environmental and climate assessments of mineral supply chains. Environ. Res. Lett. 15, 103009.
Transition to green energy infrastructure will require more metals to be extracted than current rates, and there is a possibility that mining companies will struggle to keep up with. While it is likely that material shortages will only be short-lived as the industry adapts to meet demand. An increasing expansion of terrestrial mining threatens to have significant negative environmental impacts.
At present, in the absence of enforced international regulation or certification of responsible practice, the industry relies on ESG measures for voluntary benchmarking and reporting. However, as no globally agreed environmental impact measurement method is currently in use, the true impact of mining cannot be understood. Furthermore, pathways to make mining more environmentally responsible cannot be mapped out without reliable data.
Using copper extraction as an example, the authors demonstrate the inconsistency and lack of transparency in environmental factors as fundamental as greenhouse gas emissions and pollution in the extraction process. The paper recommends constructive steps to create a reliable and trustworthy framework for reporting the environmental impacts of terrestrial mining.
The full paper can be found here.