For decades, communities around the world have too often been betrayed by promises that mining would yield financial prosperity and return to them the landscape as good as it was found. Many have ended up with environmental destruction with very little benefit to show for it.
But the car industry and its massive demand for minerals and metals for building and powering electric vehicles could change this paradigm.
Amid the push for new, more climate-friendly sources of energy, the market has seen an equally unprecedented rise in demand for lithium, cobalt, nickel and other minerals. These materials, linked to wind turbines, solar panels, EVs and batteries, derive from the mining sector, which has long been associated with irresponsible practices.
Consumers who buy EVs view themselves as active participants in a commitment to heal the planet. With their climate-conscious consumers in mind, car companies are analysing the environmental and social impact of every material in their supply chains.
Although some governments are increasingly requiring companies to undertake due diligence, regulatory levers often move slowly. It is the call from the market, supported by demands from civil society, that is sparking change at the mine site, where change is most needed.