Aerial view of mine site

Critical Minerals Symposium

How is extractivism for critical minerals being governed? Can critical minerals extractivism for renewable energy to feed into a broader sustainable transformation? This Symposium seeks to identify common themes and sources of contention for how we transition to renewable energy dependent on extracting critical minerals.

This event was held at the Seminar Room 203 in the RD Watt Building on Thursday 21 September - Friday 22 September 2023 at the University of Sydney and on online. Learn more about the Critical Minerals project here.

We are rapidly crossing planetary boundaries, with a likelihood of surpassing the safety of 1.5-2 degrees of global warming. In seeking to decarbonise energy use and systems, states have recently and dramatically began shifting to renewable energy, primarily for energy use and transportation. To tackle the climate crisis, the global energy sector will need to shift to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040-50, largely through renewables. Demand for renewables, primarily wind, solar PV, and lithium-ion batteries, has led to a global surge of ‘critical’ minerals extraction such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, rare earths and others.

States including the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia, and supra-national institutions like the European Union, have designated a host of minerals as critical to their climate, security, and economic needs. This symposium takes up concerns of how the extractivism for critical minerals is contributing to a sustainable transition. It seeks to investigate the environmental and social impacts of mining for renewables, the process and impact of global value chains for critical minerals, and efforts to govern them.

Header image: drone over quarry in Barossa Valley, SA, Australia by Dion Beetson via Unsplash.