6 GLOBAL TRENDS SHAPING THE INDUSTRY
Global demand for minerals and metals will continue to grow to meet the needs of modern society. In the search for significant deposits of high-grade minerals, the mining sector is increasingly looking at regions with attractive resource endowment. The Middle East, Central Asia, and North and East Africa represent a new frontier for mining with vast undeveloped mineral resources.
Access to capital for new projects or expansions is a challenge for the mining industry, as investors turn to sectors offering lower risk profiles and higher short-term returns. However, increasing investments in intelligent and responsible mining are setting the foundations for a world-leading mining value chain.
Growing societal expectations for a mining industry that protects the environment, contributes to community development and behaves ethically is shaping the future of the industry. Over the past 20 years, demands from investors, local communities, national governments, customers and the sector’s own workforce has brought about significant change. International investors are also increasingly basing investment decisions on ESG performance of mining companies wherever they operate.
The world needs minerals and metals to power the circular carbon economy. Minerals are vital components of renewable energy technologies, green buildings, electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage that requires high volumes of environmentally sensitive materials.
The mine of the future will be less visible, smaller, use less water and energy, and be less polluting, more productive and extract minerals more efficiently due to the mass application of new technologies. These include artificial intelligence, big data and satellite imagery, and resource-intensive mining is being replaced by autonomous vehicles and operations, drones and laserbased extraction, waterless processing and waste disposal.
Technological change in mining will require a workforce with new skills in roles that would be familiar in disruptive technology firms. The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2025, machines will replace more than 85 million jobs currently done by people, while almost 100 million new data-driven jobs will be created.