The Washington PostThe Washington Post

On frontier of new 'gold rush,' quest for coveted EV metals yields misery

By Rachel Chason and Chloe Sharrock

27 Apr 2023 · 12 min read

Editor's Note

The Washington Post investigates the global electric vehicle demand driving a mining frenzy in remote locations, leading to unforeseen consequences for communities and the environment worldwide.

KAGBANI, Guinea - One of the poorest countries on Earth has become a crucial player in the world's green-energy transition.

Guinea, a West African nation of more than 13 million people, is home to the world's biggest reserves of bauxite - a reddish-brown rock that is the main source of aluminum. That lightweight metal, in turn, is essential for electric vehicles because it allows them to travel farther without recharging than if they were made of steel. And over the current decade, when experts expect global sales of EVs to increase almost ninefold, demand for aluminum will jump nearly 40 percent, to 119 million tons annually, industry analysts say.

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