Rushing to extract critical minerals could compromise sustainable development

The urgency to provide metals for the energy transition is putting pressure on the legal safeguards and approval processes governing mining, according to University of Queensland (UQ) researchers, and the consequences could compromise sustainable development.

In a report commissioned by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and produced by UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI), researchers examined over 60 countries to identify the risks associated with governance of mining and mineral value chains in the energy transition.

SMI Principal Research Fellow and report lead author Associate Professor Kathryn Sturman will present the findings at this month’s World Mining Congress and warn attendees that the consequences of ‘fast- tracking’ governance processes are not well understood.

“Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States of America and many other jurisdictions have recently released strategies designed to secure supply of critical mineral commodities quickly – in the geopolitical context of a global race for resources,” Assoc Prof Sturman said.

“However, there is a real risk that in the rush to extract critical minerals as fast as possible, the regulation of community consultation and consent, local biodiversity, land and water management, revenue collection and benefit-sharing may be compromised.

“While these are slow processes, they are key to ensuring sustainable and responsible mining. “The reality is that sound law and policies often lag behind market trends.

“In a world that is pushing for more mining at a faster pace, governments and industry need to take a far broader view of what governance is and what the consequences of minimising its role are.

“At the World Mining Congress, I will be presenting the risks our research associated with critical minerals projects, from global governance risks to local governance risks. This includes the threat of corruption and disruption of supply chains most urgently needed to manufacture electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines and clean energy infrastructure.

“Governments and industry need to remember that the energy transition is being pursued for environmental and social sustainability, so any strategy to extract minerals should match those ends.

Associate Professor Kathryn Sturman’s presentation will be delivered as part of the World Mining Congress’s ‘Social Performance & Governance’ stream on 28 June.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) aims to promote the open and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources.

If you’d like to learn more about the research, contact Assoc Prof Sturman at

Media contacts: Connor Pound, Media Officer,, +61 447 812 081; Assoc Prof Kathryn Sturman,