The Globe and MailMark Selby is the founder and CEO of Canada Nickel Co.

Blood diamonds, blood cobalt, and now blood nickel. Governments leading the global shift toward electric vehicles promise cleaner cities and a new era of sustainable energy and improved resource usage. But just as governments promote EVs on environmental grounds, manufacturers are forced to source nickel from a region enabling the wanton destruction of ecologically sensitive lands, reckless treatment of workers, and the fundamental deterioration of living conditions. There is only one solution to this problem: the world needs more Canadian nickel.

Chinese and Indonesian companies mining and processing nickel The two processes that Chinese companies use to produce nickel in Indonesia come with a heavy environmental footprint. One uses large amounts of coal and coal-fired electricity, resulting in nickel products with a carbon footprint of 50 to 80 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of nickel. That compares with less than five tonnes of CO2 for Canadian ultramafic nickel deposits, and certain Canadian deposits which capture enough CO2 to have a net negative carbon footprint. The other uses high-pressure acid leaching, which results in large volumes of chemically reactive tailings that are either dumped in the ocean or stored on land in a seismic region and monsoon rainfall climate. Neither are conducive to the safe storage of tailings.on the east coast of Sulawesi and the surrounding Indonesian islands are responsible for a long series of tragic and fatal work accidents. Buried under slag, crushed by heavy equipment, and killed in falls, workers in Indonesian nickel mines and processing plants face conditions that thankfully have been largely eliminated from Western workplaces. And the communities that surround them suffer daily from heavy pollution.

From 2015 to 2022, Trend Asia, an NGO based in Jakarta, tracked 53 fatalities at Indonesian nickel facilities. In the first 11 months of 2023, it recorded 17. The data around injuries, unfortunately, is much harder to come by and often goes unrecorded.

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