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Mining for essential minerals in Eastern Europe and Central Asia linked to rights abuses

A recent U.K. report documents over 400 human rights abuse claims in the mining sector of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, critical for the global shift to sustainable energy.

Katie Surma reports for Inside Climate News.

In short:

  • The U.K.-based Business and Human Rights Resource Center tracked abuses in 16 countries, mainly concerning worker safety and environmental damage.
  • Russia tops the list with 112 cases, including concealed workplace accidents and severe environmental pollution.
  • Economic pressures and weak regulations in the region contribute to ongoing violations, despite increasing global demand for these minerals.

Key quote:

“The race to net zero cannot trample over the poor. The renewables revolution is happening, but we must make sure that it is done in a way that moves us towards justice.”

— U.N. Secretary General António Guterres

Why this matters:

This mining is essential for achieving global low-carbon goals, yet it’s mired in human and environmental crises. In regions rich in minerals—vital for everything from construction to technology and energy—local populations often bear the brunt of the industry’s less savory practices. The environmental toll is equally concerning, with extensive mining operations contributing to deforestation, soil erosion, water contamination, and air pollution.

Shannon Kelleher: In push to mine for minerals, clean energy advocates ask what going green really means


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