This year marks the 10th anniversary of Deloitte’s annual mining trend report. Tracking the trends 2018: The top 10 issues shaping mining in the year ahead describes scenarios that could put some mining companies at a competitive disadvantage in today’s technological, environmental, and social climate, and offers potential strategies to help companies to thrive in the future.
Here we present a summary of the mining industry trends and issues presented in the Deloitte report:
1. Bringing digital to life
Miners need to understand how digital technologies, including autonomous vehicles, drones, 3D printing, wearable technologies, and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to capture data in real time, may influence the way they do business. Most important, they need to understand how to analyze and manage this data to make significant operational improvements to mining.
2. Overcoming innovation barriers
Mining companies are traditionally risk averse, especially when lacking a clear long-term vision. Innovations with high start-up costs or that may impact cash flow or license to operate are often dismissed. Furthermore, mining companies are disinclined to collaborate with each other because of concerns about maintaining a competitive advantage and protecting intellectual property.
3. The future of work
While digital solutions will empower employees to make better decisions, they will also cause upheaval as manual jobs are automated. Mining companies need to consider how to create new employment opportunities, and how to reskill and retrain people to learn technology and tools faster.
4. The image of mining
Mining companies need to take proactive steps to address, and change, the industry’s reputation.
5. Transforming stakeholder relationships
The mining industry must adapt new approaches to the communities in which they operate to meet increasing demands for local employment opportunities, improved infrastructure, and greater environmental protection. Improvements in government relations may help ease obstacles to investment, such as high royalty rates, permitting challenges, and uncertain tax rules.
6. Water management
As concerns about water availability grow, mining companies must find more innovative ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle water in water–scarce regions; contain and treat wastewater to prevent spillage or contamination of downstream water flows; and monitor their water usage and purity.
7. Changing shareholder expectations
High commodity prices have traditionally meant overspending. As shareholder expectations grow, mining companies need to re–establishing their credibility in the investor community and with analysts.
8. Reserve replacement woes
Depleted reserves of gold, silver, copper, and cobalt currently plague the industry. Still burdened with high debt loads and rising price/earnings multiples, mining companies are struggling to free up the exploration and development budgets required to exploit new resources. At the same time, they remain extremely hesitant to engage in acquisitions to feed the exploration pipeline.
9. Realigning mining boards
To transition to the mine of the future, mining companies need to ensure that their boards embrace the full power of digitization and innovation to help drive the changes the industry.
10. Commodities of the future
To assess which commodities to invest in, and which to divest, miners need to track fluctuating consumer demands, global demographic and economic shifts, the effects of environmental change, and the emergence and adoption of new technologies. An example is the demand for lithium, graphite, cobalt, nickel, and copper resulting from the growth of electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries.
For more information about current and emerging mining industry trends and technologies, visit the Cement, Coal & Minerals online learning center and check out the application notes, infographics, product spec sheets, videos, case studies, and eBooks dealing with all aspects of the mining industry, from exploration through processing, mineral analysis, and bulk weighing, monitoring, and sampling systems, and more.