• January 31, 2020
  • OECD

Reducing the health risks of the copper, rare earth and cobalt industries: Transition to a circular low-carbon economy | OECD iLibrary

This paper considers the health and environmental burdens and impacts of the extraction and refining of selected metals (copper, rare earth elements and cobalt) and how impacts can be reduced through the transition to a circular, low-carbon economy.

Performance in the global industry is extremely variable. Some businesses operate to high standards within a framework that facilitates the re-use and recycling of metals and other materials. Others cause significant harm to workers (including child labour) and the people and environment around their facilities. Mining for metal ore remains a highly hazardous occupation in some countries. Pollutant emission standards vary substantially between regions. Life cycle analysis has repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of recycling metals. The report includes a number of recommendations to policy makers and the metals and manufacturing industries.

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