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12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Join our series of two webinars and find out if mining metals for the energy and digital transitions can be done with respect to human rights and the environment.

About the Event

Which metals for a fair transition?

During the months of May and June we will organise 2 webinars on this topic. While the first debate will focus on the aspects of extraction in the south (extractivism, working conditions, regulations, due diligence, etc.), this one will tackle the issues of consumption and production in Europe (reopening mines in Europe, lower consumption, circular economy, recycling, technology design, low tech…)

Our main guiding questions will be to:

  • Between the efforts for supply chain responsibility and the development of new technologies, can Europe ensure a fair supply of metals? Can we move beyond extractivism?
  • Can Europe make a more sparing, circular use of metals for its transitions? What would that mean for our lifestyles?



Like all European countries, Belgium imports large quantities of rare metals such as cobalt, germanium, lithium and coltan through complex and opaque supply chains.

These metals are now the subject of particular attention in European policies. This is for at least two reasons which raise some rather contradictory issues and involve very different actors: it is in fact on the one hand to ensure a constant supply to support the growth of the development of renewable energies and digital technologies (solar panels, electric cars, wind turbines, smartphones, smart cities…) and on the other hand to make sure not to contribute to socially and ecologically objectionable forms of mining (work conditions sometimes close to slavery, child labour, destruction of ecosystems in producing countries… ). The Democratic Republic of Congo, with which Belgium has a tumultuous historical relationship, illustrates the current difficulties in reconciling these two issues. Between neo-colonialism and extractivism, Congo provides 60 per cent of the world’s cobalt and 40 per cent of coltan, but still remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

How can mining be technically and socially modernised to stop child labour and minimise environmental damage? How to deal with the limits of due diligence in Europe? What is being done today in European and Congolese policies to improve the conditions for metal extraction?

As far as demand is concerned, can the EU limit the need for imported virgin metals while ensuring a rapid energy transition and a responsible digital transition? For example, by stimulating the recycling and substitution of rare metals, re-opening mines within its borders or reducing the overconsumption of kilowatt hours and megabytes?



Dr Peter Tom Jones, from KU Leuven (https://kuleuven.sim2.be/dr-peter-tom-jones/)

Romain Gelin (Research group for an alternative economic strategy- Gresea)

Géraldine Duquenne (Policy and advocacy officer at Justice et Paix)



Date and time: Thursday, 3rd June from 12:00 to 14:00 CET.

Audience: This webinar will take place in French and is open to the general public

Facebook Event: Available here

Registration: Click Here


The event will be organised through the ZOOM platform, with Facebook live, Etopia Radio and the local Brussels Radio station (tbc).


This project is organised by the Green European Foundation with the support of Etopia and with the financial support of the European Parliament to the Green European Foundation. The European Parliament is not responsible for the content of this event.

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