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Countries across the globe are working to mitigate and adapt to climate change through infrastructural development that depends on the extraction and processing of natural resources like lithium, cobalt, copper, iron, and nickel. Yet mines carry their own environmental and social harms, especially at the local level in the areas in which they operate. The Program on Mining and the Circular Economy, or MCE, (formerly known as the Mining, Environment, and Society Program) grapples with these contradictions through rigorous research and public outreach with stakeholders such as mining companies, governments, NGOs, and community organizations.
The research collaboration brings together companies, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, foundations, government ministries, and other stakeholders to identify shared research priorities on key themes related to mining, such as decarbonization, water, and tailings. The annual collaborative cycle will begin with a plenary workshop to hear from experts and discuss key concerns at the nexus of mining, the environment, and society. Investigation of these topics by scholars from MIT or other institutions will result in regular seminars on findings, white papers with policy implications for stakeholders, summaries of best practices, and “Looking Ahead” documents on trends in the field. If you are interested in joining the solutions collaborative, please contact us.
The inaugural MIT Conference on Mining, Environment, and Society took place on September 7-9, 2022 and convened academics, industry, government officials and NGOs to discuss the environmental and social challenges of supplying the materials for solar, batteries, the electric grid and more, and to identify opportunities for future collaboration.
The mining program is in the process of developing both peer-reviewed and public-oriented literature on topics crucial to understanding and affecting extractive industries, such as climate change, water, and community relations. See recent publications on these topics here.
MCE works with MIT Professional Education to offer training in sustainability thought and practice to mining professionals. This work began with a program in Brazil called the Mining Innovation in a New Environment (MINE) program, carried out in cooperation with Vale, The Bakery, SENAI CLIMATEC, and the Imperial College London Consultants. Now in its second year, the program has trained approximately 60 Brazilian professionals, and has included lectures by MIT faculty and tutoring on how to incorporate considerations of sustainability into operational challenges.