Committee Republicans Expose Human Rights, Environmental Crises in Mineral Supply Chains
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 9, 2023 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing titled "Dependence on Foreign Adversaries: America’s Critical Minerals Crisis." Subcommittee Chairman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) issued the following statement in response:
"U.S. dependence on foreign sources for critical minerals has reached alarming rates. Sadly, Mr. Biden and Democrats in Congress don’t see this as a problem, or they simply don’t care. While the magical fantasy of roads filled with only electric cars occupy their dreams, the reality is Democrats have no concept, let alone a plan, to address the complexity of our growing reliance on critical minerals. We must stop the funding and profiteering of hostile foreign countries, many who rely on unconscionable child labor to line their pockets. Instead, we must fight to advance American economic and energy security while providing American working men and women good paying jobs and ensuring revenues flow to our communities that help fund investments in our environment and education."
Today, the United States is dependent on China for more than half of its supply of 25 different minerals. Whether to build electric cars, wind turbines, electronics, lasers, medical supplies or meet military needs, these critical minerals are essential to U.S. national security and economic development.
Demand for many of these minerals is predicted to exponentially grow, driven in part by a strong national and global push to increase renewable energy. For example, President Joe Biden’s commitments to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 will necessitate a massive scale-up of renewables in the upcoming decades. This will inevitably require substantial increases in mineral extraction to meet the demand. The World Bank predicted demand increases of graphite, lithium, and cobalt of almost 500 percent by the year 2050.
Given this skyrocketing demand, labor conditions and other practices at Chinese-operated mines cannot be ignored. Some of the most serious reports stem from Chinese mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reportedly involving corruption and violation of human rights, including forced evictions, child labor and other labor and human rights abuses through subcontracting models. For example, reports emerged of child labor in the Katanga region of the Congo where children work for $2 a day. One human rights activist recently took photographs of young children approximately six years old "carrying large bags of rocks and mothers working laboriously while carrying their babies."
Environmental standards and guidelines used by Chinese-owned minerals industry companies are also questionable. In one instance, a Chinese-owned nickel plant spilled almost 53,000 gallons of toxic slurry into a bay in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province, turning the water bright red and staining the shore. According to a Zimbabwean environmentalist, "some Chinese companies don’t even have proper licenses to operate in Zimbabwe [and] these companies are leaving trails of immense environmental degradation across the country, particularly those in extractive sectors."
The best place for mineral development is America, where we employ scientific advancements and regulate mineral production under some of the world’s most rigorous standards. Witnesses today testified to the importance of advancing a stable supply of critical minerals to meet national and international demand.For more information, click here.
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