Over 100 cases of alleged human rights violations and environmental abuses by Chinese-invested companies involved in mineral mining supply chains were identified in a recent report from the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in London, England.
According to the survey, entitled “Unpacking Clean Energy: Human Rights Impacts of Chinese Overseas Investment in Transition Minerals,” 102 allegations of abuse were linked to Chinese companies’ overseas investments in the transition minerals sector between January 2021 and December 2022.
Indonesia was the worst culprit with 27 recorded abuse allegations. Peru had the second-most abuse allegations (16) followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12), Myanmar (11) and Zimbabwe (7).
More than two-thirds of the allegations (69) related to human rights abuses against local communities. Over half of the recorded incidents (54) involved a negative impact on the environment. More than a third of the allegations (34) had to do with workers’ rights with a majority of them focused on health and safety risks in the workplace.
Despite the large number of recorded abuse allegations, less than 18% of the companies mentioned in the report (7 out of 39) have published human rights policies, “suggesting there is significant room for improvement in both policies and practices,” according to the study’s authors. Of the 22 companies within the critical mineral mining sector that were approached regarding these abuses, only four organizations actually responded to the allegations.
The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre provided three key recommendations that could greatly contribute to “rapid and successful energy transitions:” fair labor negotiations, human rights/social protections and shared prosperity to build trust and stability within the industry.
“As demand for transition minerals to fuel green technologies remains a global priority, the scope for human rights infringements by mining companies and their investors remains a major concern,” the report’s authors wrote. “Commitment to these principles has never been more important.”
The report analyzed 102 allegations of human rights and environmental abuses related to Chinese overseas investments between January 2021 and December 2022. In the study, the term allegation refers to publicly reported incidents of abuse by a company, civil society action against a company or attacks against human rights defenders. Impacts were organized into six categories of abuse: environmental impacts (E), local communities and attacks against civil society organizations (LC), impacts on workers (W), governance and transparency (G), security issues and conflict zones (S) and the COVID-19 pandemic (C).