On 24 June, I’ll be moderating a panel about hard-to-abate industries at the Reuters Events Global Energy Transition summit. It’s a topic that has major implications not just for the resources industry in general, but for mining in particular. That’s because the transition to a cleaner energy future could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for mining to redefine its role in the sustainability ecosystem.
There’s no denying that we are now in the midst of a great shift when it comes to the energy transition. Along with this shift comes the demand for a range of green and critical minerals to enable not just battery electric vehicles, but energy storage in general, along with more sustainable housing, infrastructure, and the components for a myriad of technology devices going forward. Mining and mining supply chains are quite literally emerging as a critical piece in the decarbonisation puzzle.
But this rise in mineral demand, and the opportunity that it presents for the industry, comes at a time when mining needs to overcome a trust deficit with respect to communities, governments and society at large. We wrote about this extensively in Deloitte’s annual Mining trends report, Tracking the Trends. The report addresses the challenges that this poses, and how the industry can work to close the trust deficit. While the temptation might be to simply communicate a better narrative, more importantly, it’s also about taking tangible collective action that will shape the industry’s reputation for decades.
There are some key actions the industry should consider in order to being viewed as a trusted supplier to the energy transition:
Changing the overall narrative through purposeful action is something that will require industry collaboration. This is, of course, easier said than done. What it usually takes is some existential threat or burning platform. For example, safety. When dam management came to the forefront, the entire industry came together to develop stronger guidelines. Right now, climate change is the existential threat. Will this be the platform for the industry to come together, change the narrative, and close the trust deficit?
The fact is the transition to clean energy will happen whether miners choose to intentionally focus on this or not. But do miners want to squander this opportunity? Or do they want to come together and use this moment to rebuild trust with society as a supplier of ethically produced critical and green minerals? The choice is theirs and the moment is now.