Earthworks Submission on the UNEA-4 Mineral Resource Governance Resolution

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The flux of commodities markets and increase in some mineral demand is fueling a move away from responsible mining standards at a time when mining is getting dirtier and riskier. The mining industry is one of the most polluting, deadly, and destructive industries in the world. Yet to date, mining company responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have received little scrutiny compared to other industries seeking to profit from this crisis. After analyzing hundreds of complaints, articles and statement alongside civil society allies, ​Earthworks and our allied organizations have observed four trends in mining company actions during the pandemic​:

  1. Mining companies are ignoring the threat of the pandemic and continuing to operate, putting communities and workers at grave risk of infection;
  2. Governments and mining companies are using the pretext of a lockdown to exacerbate violence against defenders and repress community protests, in order to make way for more mining;
  3. Mining companies have been donating money, sanitary supplies and test-kits in an attempt to distract from their track record of harm and portray themselves as public saviours; and
  4. Governments and politicians are securing regulatory changes to eliminate public oversight for existing mines and expedite permits for new operations.

Earthworks welcomes this consultation process and broadly agrees with the findings and recommendations regarding mineral resource governance on page 10 of the discussion paper. However, we would like to highlight and expand upon several of the issues raised:

    • Mineral demand for low carbon technology – challenges and opportunities
    • Best practice mineral resource governance standards
    • Community consent
    • The opportunity for responsible mineral sourcing presented by the transition to low-carbon technology
    • Deep Sea Mining
    • Mineral resource governance must embrace a circular economy
    • Tailings Management

Banner photo: Rogério Alves/TV Senado