UN panel seeks to stem mining abuses in global rush for critical minerals

As the world rushes to exploit the “critical minerals” needed for the transition to green energy, a UN-led panel has been tasked with putting together guidelines to ensure that their extraction and exploitation is fair, transparent and environmentally friendly.

The demand for metals such as cobalt, nickel, lithium and rare earths – essential for the manufacture of clean-technology components – is expected to surge by three and a half times before the end of the decade.

This comes after more than 110 countries committed to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 at last year’s Cop28 climate summit.

Making the promised rapid transition to zero-carbon renewables means massive investment in solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and storage batteries – all of which are made using hefty quantities of minerals.

"A world powered by renewables is a world hungry for critical minerals," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said as he launched the oversight panel, adding that the race to net zero emissions must not “trample over the poor”.


According to the International Energy Agency, which sits on the panel, a typical electric car requires six times the mineral input of a conventional car, while an onshore wind plant needs nine times more mineral resources than a gas-fired plant.

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