Top 5 mining and metals industry trends for 2023 and beyond
Without a doubt, the mining industry is essential to the global economy. The top 40 mining companies in the world, which make up the overwhelming majority of the sector, generated about US$925 billion in revenue in 2021 with more growth projected in the near future. The sector offers jobs for millions of people and tens of millions are engaged in mining all over the world.
Today, large and medium-sized businesses are concentrating on cutting expenses, automating procedures, and improving efficiency. The success of particular businesses will depend on certain patterns, despite the fact that the demand for minerals will rise in the years to come.
Where will mining go from here? What trends will continue to guide the industry in the future?
Here are five trends that are most likely to affect the mining and metals sector in the forthcoming years.
1. Digital innovation
Companies should start or continue to move to digital and automated processes, implementing new technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), remote control centers, and self-driving vehicles, to achieve substantial progress in terms of cost efficiency and safety.
At the same time, it is of note that the mining and metals business is40% less digitally evolved than other industries such as the automotive and chemical sectors. Technology development in the industry has traditionally been extremely challenging due to the tough environmental conditions including remote and underground activities.
Among the companies already employing digital innovations areAnglo American andRio Tinto. Drones and remote-controlled vehicles are used by both businesses for reasons of security and higher efficiency. They use automation, machine learning, and other technologies to gather important data to make business decisions.
Anglo American, for instance, manages its activities with the help of video, augmented reality, and AI while Rio Tinto has set up a digital twin technology for process optimization.
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2. Shifting to a low-carbon economy
Zero pollution is now a common goal for mining businesses, as climate change advocates put more pressure on the industry. However, some of these businesses lack the knowledge to shift to more sustainable business models.
They might consider developing strategies to deal with this issue as well as employing pollution reduction techniques such as monitoring their emissions or collaborating with other businesses to reduce pollution.
Mining and metals businesses could also add recycling to their models to cut down the demand for virgin materials. This can be accomplished by investing in recycling technology.
To create a more environmentally friendly supply chain, companies can work with suppliers, clients, and governments to decrease emissions at every point along the value chain, from production to shipping and consumption.
3. New resource-finding technologies
Resources in certain regions are becoming scarce so mining enterprises now have to investigate uncharted territories. Mining will become more exact and effective thanks to new technologies and techniques such asin-situ leaching,block caving, andbiomining (mineral processing with microbes) may become even more effective in the future.
4. Alternative financing models for mining activities
To reduce the level of risk that comes with taking on new, costly projects, alternative financing solutions such as royalty and stream financing are expected to become more popular.
Although these are not new, in recent years they have gained popularity as alternative sources of funding, particularly for small mining companies.
Royalty financing – offers an investor a portion of the mine’s future profits in exchange for funding
Stream financing – an investor gives a mining business up-front funds in return for the right to pay less for a portion of the mine’s future output.
5. Overcoming talent shortages
Earlier this year, a report by Deloitte highlighted that currently “many mine workers are at least age 46, and nearly 50% of skilled engineers will reach retirement age in the next decade”. In view of the massive number ofretirements and departures, mining and metals businesses are experiencing their worst-ever talent shortage.
At the same time, companies must step up their efforts to create a useful brand that is aligned with modern values because younger workers are deterred by the mining industry’s reputation.
According to asurvey, mining experts are aware of the need for further education and training of employees, but not everyone is eager to embrace the opportunity.
All the big mining companies such as BHP, Rio Tinto, Vale, and Anglo American are addressing the talent shortage by implementing various programs. For instance:
To meet the demands of the mining and metals industry, BHP has worked on and implemented the Minerals Australia First Year Intern Programto reach students in their first year at university on general science and engineering courses.
Vale has also put in place its Professional Training Program (PTP) for training new talent as well as offering internships and grants to entice and nurture new talent. The PTP is intended for individuals 18 or older who have completed either standard high school or technical high school education.
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An in-depth knowledge of the most recent trends is necessary for the constantly changing world of mining and metals industries. Trends prove that this market is continually changing and new business possibilities are emerging. These trends will certainly affect the industry and its development, and it will be interesting to follow the shapeshifting and how new opportunities are being created.