Recharging Community Consent: Mining companies, battery minerals, and the battle to break from the past
With mining set to expand as part of the sweeping energy transition, it is imperative that future mining only proceed with the full support and consent of Indigenous peoples and frontline communities. In the first policy brief of its kind to focus on the public policy commitments of mining companies extracting five key transition minerals to respect Indigenous rights, Oxfam concludes that the battery mineral sector’s approach to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) is not sufficiently ready to support a just energy transition under current company policies. More companies need to adopt strong FPIC policies that unequivocally commit them from proceeding with a project if Indigenous peoples withhold consent.
In pursuing a more just energy transition, grounded in FPIC, mining companies can break free from a history of violence and abuse that has undermined Indigenous communities and companies’ own bottom lines. Companies that demonstrate that their operations and products are developed with the support and consent of the communities where they operate will have a huge competitive edge. Buyers and car manufacturers, along with technology, mass transit, and renewable energy companies, all want to be able to show that their supply chains fully respect the rights of those communities where they source their mineral inputs from. And consumer countries want confidence that their supplies of raw minerals will not be interrupted because mines have failed to protect human rights.
Global climate action cannot be used to justify further harm and human rights abuses of Indigenous and local communities across the globe. Policy priority must be given to finding and funding solutions to minimize the need to mine raw minerals—and then ensure that what mining is still needed be conducted in a sustainable, just, equitable and rights-respecting way.