Car companies urged to drive up standards at mines, refineries, smelters

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Car companies need to do more to address abuses in their aluminium supply chains and the bauxite mines they source from, Human Rights Watch and Inclusive Development International said in a report.

Car manufacturers used nearly a fifth of all aluminium consumed worldwide in 2019 and they are forecast to double their aluminium consumption by 2050 as they transition to electric vehicles.

The 63-page report, “Aluminium: The Car Industry’s Blind Spot – Why Car Companies Should Address the Human Rights Impact of Aluminium Production,” describes the global supply chains that connect car manufacturers to mines, refineries, and smelters from countries including Guinea, Ghana, Brazil, China, Malaysia, and Australia.

Based on meetings and correspondence with nine major car companies including BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Groupe PSA – now part of Stellantis, Renault, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo, Human Rights Watch and Inclusive Development International assessed how the auto industry addresses the human rights impacts of aluminium production, from the destruction of farmland and damage to water sources caused by mines and refineries to the significant carbon emissions from aluminium smelting. Three other companies – BYD, Hyundai, and Tesla – did not respond to requests for information.

“Car manufacturers see aluminium as a critical material for the transition to fuel-efficient vehicles,” said Jim Wormington, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “They should use their ever-increasing purchasing power to protect the communities whose land and environments are harmed by the aluminium industry.”

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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.