Miners facing 'trust deficit'

REBUILDING trust is at the heart of the 10 trends for the mining industry in 2021 identified by Deloitte.
Miners facing 'trust deficit' Miners facing 'trust deficit' Miners facing 'trust deficit' Miners facing 'trust deficit' Miners facing 'trust deficit'

Staff reporter

Deloitte's annual Tracking the Trends report tried to look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to identify the key issues for miners.

It said a central narrative emerged: the issue of trust between the mining industry and its stakeholders.

According to Deloitte, a July 2020 World Economic Forum report identified the "trust deficit" as being the key risk facing the mining industry.

"The industry is, in many ways, at an important juncture," the 13th Tracking the Trends report said.

"Mining could hold the key to a lower carbon future through many of the minerals it mines, yet the industry is capital starved. It has the potential to create widespread meaningful employment in urban and rural areas, yet it's often not the first choice for talent.

"And while mining companies have played a significant role though the COVID-19 crisis by flying in personal protective equipment (PPE), leveraging their health care infrastructure, and keeping workers safe, many governments continue to look toward the industry for additional taxes and royalty payments."

Deloitte said the dichotomies still existed because of a deficit in trust.

The first of 10 trends identified by Deloitte is ‘building resilience amid volatility'.

It highlighted four scenarios of how the industry could play out over the next 3-5 years, focused on the pandemic.

The first of the four scenarios, ‘the passing storm' is the effective management of the pandemic, albeit with last impacts of small and medium-sized businesses and lower and middle-income earners.

The second sees governments struggle to contain the pandemic, with companies stepping up as part of the solution and accelerating a move towards "stakeholder capitalism".

‘Sunrise in the East' would see China and other East Asian nations emerge as the primary global powers due to effective pandemic management, while the ‘lone wolves' scenario would see a prolonged pandemic, forcing governments to adopt isolationist policies.

"Planning for a range of outcomes is key as leaders build resilience in their organisations," Deloitte national mining and metals leader Ian Sanders said.   

"To do this, leaders should reconsider the assumptions of their current strategy, determine how they will respond if an unexpected scenario occurs, and pay attention to local, regional, and global indicators about where things are heading."  

The second trend is ‘M&A in an altered world'.

Deloitte noted investors lost confidence in miners during the peak of the last cycle due to a series of poor deals.

"To build investor confidence mining companies need to address some key table stake issues while at the same time look at the strategic opportunity around M&A as the industry undergoes some structural changes," Deloitte said.

Trend three is ‘getting serious about decarbonisation', which is underway, particularly among the majors.

The fourth and related trend is ‘linking social investments to sustainable outcomes', which is an opportunity for the sector to build trust by creating value beyond compliance.

Trend five, ‘corporate governance adding to competitive advantage' urges miners to strengthen governance processes, especially around issues such as human rights, ethical conduct, cybersecurity, and social impacts.  

‘Creating an agile supply chain' is trend six, with the pandemic, geopolitics, the rise of nationalism and cross-border supply challenges adding risk.

The seventh trend, ‘the path towards integrated operations', urges miners to break down silos in order to boost efficiency and better respond to external events and internal variables.

‘Advancing the future of work' is a trend well underway due to the pandemic, but one that will continue to evolve in 2021.

Trend nine is ‘on the road to zero harm', with miners encouraged to more actively collaborate around data pooling, addressing the interoperability of wearables and harness the power of predictive analytics to improve safety.

The final trend is ‘meeting the demand for critical minerals' as the world moves towards renewable energy.

"Candidates include copper, nickel, lithium, and cobalt, but no one is certain which ones will eventually see the most demand, and there is a scramble to lock in supply," Deloitte said.