In order to transition to clean energy in the coming decades, billions of tons of copper, nickel, silver, and other metals will be required to build electric vehicles and green infrastructure, and power smart technology. We need more metals than ever before, yet the qualities and quantities are diminishing, making the extraction process more polluting to land, air, and water. And most of these metals will be mined from the global south, where social conflict will only grow, led by Indigenous peoples demanding a greater say in how their wealth is used.
In Pitfall, investigative journalist Christopher Pollon charts how transnational companies have controlled copper, precious metals, and lithium mining in Latin America, made inroads into war-torn countries in Africa, and extracted nickel, industrial and rare earth metals across Australia, Asia and the Pacific. Industry attention is now moving to deeper and darker places, including the depths of the ocean, sacrifice zones, and near-Earth asteroids.
The stakes couldn’t be higher: How can we mine the metals we need without replicating the environmental and human rights abuses of the past?