Scarce mining is ruining lives

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Birds cannot sing, Fish no longer swim in muddy rivers. Animals do not roam around. Cows are often seen dying.

People in the forests of northern Myanmar are losing the way of life they have preserved for generations. However, if he expressed his dissatisfaction with the matter, he was threatened with death.

These forests are the source of a wide variety of essential minerals, called the world’s vitamins. Rare earths are now ingrained in the lives of almost everyone in the world, including computers, From cell phones to elevators and trains.


These metals are particularly important to the fast-growing green energy sector, where they are used in wind turbines and electric vehicles. Those metals go to some of the most famous companies in the world, such as General Motors, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and Apple.

But according to an investigation by The Associated Press, the widespread use of the metal hides a dirty secret that everyone in the industry knows. The price paid for these metals is environmental damage; It is robbing villagers of their land and funding a picketing army linked to the brutal Burmese army. As the demand for rare earth minerals increases, human rights violations may also increase.

“This increase in mining capacity is justified by climate change,” said Julie Mitchell Klinger, author of the book, Rare Earth Fronts. He heads a federal government project to track down illegal energy minerals.

“There’s still a lot of drive to find places where people don’t know where they’re going to find those minerals,” he said. The study included dozens of interviews with 78 companies involved in raw material supply chains and Myanmar’s rare earths. Lots of customs information; It includes dozens of corporate records and academic papers from China, as well as satellite images and geological analyzes shared by environmental nonprofit Global Witness.


Of those companies, 1 in 3 responded to the survey. Two-thirds of those said they did not say where they got their rare earth metals from, and that included Volkswagen, which said the company did adequate due diligence in purchasing rare earth metals. Almost all said they care about environmental protection and human rights.

Some companies say they audit their rare earth supply chain. Other companies say they don’t or they don’t require such a supplier’s warranty. General Motors says it understands the risks associated with rare earths and will soon only deal with suppliers of rare earths from the United States.

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