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The crucial role of the mining and metals sector in a green energy transition

Tracking the Trends 2023

31 January 2023: Meeting the critical and growing demand for the metals and minerals that will underpin a decarbonised future is a story worth telling – in words and actions.

This is the key message to come from Tracking the Trends – the 15th annual edition of Deloitte’s global report that explores key trends and issues facing mining and metals companies in the coming year.

Deloitte Australia Mining & Metals Leader Nicki Ivory said: “We all know that the green energy transition, here in Australia and around the world, will be a mineral-intensive one. But there is often a disconnect between public perceptions of the industry and resistance to projects, and the very clear environmental and economic benefits those projects can deliver.

“So, it’s time for the industry to really stand up and tell its story – centred on the absolutely critical role it is playing and will continue to play in addressing our very real climate change challenges.

“From civil infrastructure to transport, technology to agriculture, medical to science, the products of mining have always supported many sectors. Put simply, without mining and metals, our energy transition and global climate change mitigation efforts could be threatened.

“Under this broad theme of being, and being seen to be, a catalyst for positive change, our report identifies ten trends that will impact the industry over the next 12 to 18 months.

“From continuing to foster open collaboration, properly identifying impacts on natural capital, and prioritising a more holistic approach to workplace safety, each trend has a role to play in guiding mining and metals companies to success as they seek to capture and convey the opportunities and value the sector generates.”

Top industry trends for 2023

  • Generating strategic advantage through natural capital: Mining and metals companies are beginning to detail their projects’ environmental impacts across their operations and value chains to enable an accurate valuation of natural capital in financial disclosures.
  • The role of mining in a circular economy: Operators are reconsidering their roles as metal producers and exploring how a circular economy (CE) model can help them capitalise on previously untapped value sources.
  • Supporting the decarbonisation of economies: Many operators are forming partnerships to support, or actively participate in, research and development initiatives with downstream companies to develop and accelerate cleantech.
  • Speeding successful innovation for greater value: Environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations in mining have been a catalyst for collaborative innovation, driving companies to join forces to tackle problems beyond the capability of any one organisation.
  • Securing future metals and minerals supplies Companies are looking to AI-based predictive models that enable them to perform risk analysis, including cyber, geopolitical, and pandemic risks.
  • Using systems thinking to drive next-level operational excellence: Mining and metals companies are looking to employ systems thinking, design, and modelling to build a more integrated and holistic approach to operations that also considers the impact of new energy sources, extraction methods, and processes.
  • Solving workforce challenges through collaborative solutions: By bringing together multiple stakeholders across the mining and metals ecosystem—governance, regulators, educational entities, and private bodies—the industry can shape a multifaceted, enduring solution to talent sourcing.
  • Making workforce health and safety fit for the future: Although safety is an ongoing part of mining and metals workplace culture, companies are now including cultural and psychological safety as part of their safety cultures.
  • Using tax and reporting to change perceptions of mining: Companies are working to demonstrate their true value to society—a critical factor in changing the perception and trustworthiness of the industry. With this, they can also expect scrutiny of their tax and wider economic contributions.
  • Building an industry that thrives through change: Operators are drawing on technologies like cloud computing to help make structures, processes, and operations more dynamic and responsive to ongoing economic, social, and environmental changes.