Impacts on water, soil, air and health, lack of transparency and participation in decision-making, human rights violations, criminalization and violence against communities are some of the effects documented along Rare Earths supply chains, according to the “Rare Earths Impacts and Conflicts Map”.
China, Chile, Brazil, Finland, Greenland, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malawi, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and Sweden, are some of the scenes of these conflicts, which will be exacerbated as the demand for these minerals increases. As the EU Critical Raw Materials Act points out, Rare Earths are strategic for the green and digital transition, and also for defense and the aerospace industry.
Rare-earth elements (REEs) are a group of 17 chemical elements considered critical for digitalization and for the energy transition. They have unique magnetic, optical and electronic properties that make them crucial for wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, LED and LCD screens, but also to produce aircraft, missiles, satellites andcommunications systems.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests that to meet Net Zero Emissions goals the extraction of REEs would have to increase by a factor of 10 by 2030. Indeed, production has already increased by more than 85% between 2017 and 2020, driven mainly by the demand for permanent magnets for electric vehicles and wind power technology.
While the central question for industrialized economies has remained how to urgently secure the sources that can meet a booming demand of critical materials for a green and digital transition, the REE Impacts and Conflicts Map highlights the increasingly unsustainable and unjust distribution of environmental, social and health burdens on communities across REE global supply chains. Some questions need to be urgently addressed, such as:
On Monday, November 20th, an international webinar was held to present the map.
Spanish and French simultaneous translation will be provided.
See recording of the webinar. To see the slides, click here.