The mining industry is fixing to capitalize on the energy transition. But affected communities across the Americas are speaking out against “business as usual.”
While mining executives and industry representatives cozied up with government officials at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) annual conference on June 13, 2022, in Toronto, outside, a group gathered to say something no one was saying inside: We cannot mine our way out of the climate crisis.
The hot topic at PDAC 2022 was our warming climate and the unprecedented business opportunity it affords the mining industry, as the global energy transition shifts investment from fossil fuels to metal and mineral-intense technologies like wind and solar, and energy storage. But far from investing in efforts to recycle and reduce our dependence on new materials, the mining industry — itself responsible for some of the worst environmental disasters in history — has ramped up its public relations efforts to position itself as a climate champion.
Throughout its 90-year history, the PDAC conference has largely been a space for the movers and shakers of the global mining industry to network, make deals, and discuss the latest trends and technologies. Government representatives from across the world make sales pitches in an effort to attract the significant global mining investment raised on Canadian stock exchanges, while Canadian government representatives (including Ambassadors) showcase their work reforming mining codes to make that investment easier. Strip away the industry’s rhetoric around social and environmental sustainability, and PDAC is about one thing — expanding mining, more and faster.
Representatives of communities from the Philippines to Ethiopia to the High Arctic and allies gathered outside PDAC 2022 to denounce the industry’s efforts to greenwash their extractive activities, and to amplify the voices of frontline communities caught in the crosshairs of ‘green’ mining. As the energy transition intensifies, communities across the globe are fighting for real solutions to the climate crisis, protecting their lands and waters from becoming sacrifice zones while the mining industry profits. Below, we highlight a few of those struggles.
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