(Ottawa) The environmental, social, and climate impacts of mining metals to meet the demands of the booming renewable energy economy are the focus of an international conference opening today in Ottawa. The non-profit group MiningWatch Canada aims to highlight the high environmental and social costs of mining and identify ways to reduce demand for newly mined metals as the world moves urgently away from fossil fuel energy.
The group says the impacts of mining are inadequately addressed as it is, and already acute impacts on communities and ecosystems will be dramatically worsened by projected manyfold increases in demand for metals and minerals to produce wind turbines, photovoltaic cells, electric vehicles and batteries, etc. that can only be partially offset by increased recycling and materials efficiency.
“We are already seeing serious damage to forests, watersheds, farmland, and people’s livelihoods and security from mining for these ‘energy metals’,” says MiningWatch communications coordinator Jamie Kneen. “We have to recognise that there are real limits to extraction. Communities and ecosystems alike are already struggling to deal with mining’s short and long term effects, and they are both signalling that they can’t sacrifice more.”
Over the next two days, community activists will join academics, environmental and social justice organisations, government workers, and industry representatives at the Delta Hotel in Ottawa for this groundbreaking gathering.
The conference will hear new research, analysis, and initiatives on a wide range of related issues, from lithium extraction to deep sea mining to the latest thinking in the efficient use of materials. One new initiative being released at the conference is a map of all of the new graphite and lithium mining projects between Ottawa and Montreal, revealing a new ‘boom’ in mine exploration and development.
Participants from across Canada and as far away as the South Pacific and South America will discuss the impacts and limits of metals extraction, the potential for recycling and efficiency to meet growing demand, how to improve the way mining is done, and what steps need to be taken to reduce demand. “These are not impossible problems to solve, but they are not easy ones, either,” comments Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch. “We are trying to point to solutions, even if they require real collective commitment to pursue.”
- Jamie Kneen (613) 761-2273 (cell) (English/Spanish)
- Ugo Lapointe (514) 708-0134 (cell) (French)
Live stream: The conference is also being live streamed via Zoom.