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Fieldfisher releases new guide to responsible metals supply chains

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Global Mining Review,

Fieldfisher’s presentation at the G7 Summit Fringe in Cornwall was underscored by an agreement by global leaders on the need to support electrification of energy, requiring investment in sustainable upstream minerals and metals supply.

European law firm Fieldfisher has released a new guide ‘Supplying responsibly: Towards a clean metals supply chain’, outlining how upstream suppliers of mineral and metals products can comply with new legislation on, and customer demand for, clean, conflict-free raw materials.

Recent legislative developments, such as the EU’s Conflict Minerals Regulation, track stakeholder demands for thorough supply chain due diligence showing products have been made using materials and processes that conform to the highest environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) standards.

The publication of Fieldfisher's guide follows the firm's presentation at the G7 Summit Fringe on 10 June 2021, hosted by Cornwall Trade and Investment, where the firm participated as a panellist in an event entitled ‘Invest in the future of mining’.

The event featured a short video presentation and industry insights from Fieldfisher's Head of Mining and Metals, Jonathan Brooks, focusing on the UK's role in supporting clean minerals and metals supply chains.

In a communiqué following the G7 Summit on 13 June, G7 leaders confirmed pledges to increase climate finance contributions as part of efforts to reduce emissions and move towards cleaner energy generation.

“We will focus on accelerating progress on electrification and batteries, hydrogen, carbon capture, usage and storage, zero emission aviation and shipping, and for those countries that opt to use it, nuclear power,” the communiqué said.

Meeting the Paris Agreement targets will require unprecedented deployment of clean energy technologies and trigger a corresponding exponential demand for several critical minerals, including lithium, copper, tin, cobalt, rare earths, and graphite.

In May 2021, the International Energy Agency projected the world needs to quadruple its current mineral requirements for clean energy technologies by 2040 and increase them six-fold to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Consequently, mineral and metal supply chains are of paramount importance and capacity increases must be delivered sustainably to ensure they contribute to an overall environmental benefit.

Brooks said: “Large reserves of metals and minerals required for renewable technologies are often found in states affected by conflict, human rights abuses, weak environmental standards and otherwise challenging governance issues.

“However, mining is an important contributor to the economies of these nations and many legitimate and well-intentioned mining companies and smelters operate in these areas and deserve to be rewarded for their efforts through supply chain due diligence.

“Enhanced supply chain scrutiny should not be about risk-avoidance by dodging certain jurisdictions, but rather about raising standards across the board.

“Demand for ethically produced resources will help prevent supply chain abuse and enable mining companies operating to recognised best practice standards to compete on a level playing field.

“This will help increase overall mineral and metal supply and reduce price volatility, while delivering environmental improvements both on the ground and downstream.”

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