Miners showed their resilience in 2020, largely overcoming challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, only 7.5% of the 68 mining executives surveyed thought pandemic-led demand destruction would be the biggest threat to the sector in 2021, while only 13.6% saw its impact on supply chains being the biggest risk.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are seen as being the biggest risk, according to 45% of respondents.
However, operational issues, including productivity, maintaining production, growth and resilience was seen as the main priority for the sector, ahead of ESG matters, climate change and tailings management at a combined 37.8%.
More than 78% of respondents expect ESG to play a bigger part in decision-making for investors.
Just under half expect emissions to be the biggest focus of investors and regulators.
Among commodities, 36% of respondents believe copper is the most likely metal to outperform, followed by gold (18%).
Over 40% said they expected precious metals to be the sector most likely to see consolidation, followed by base metals (22.9%), coal (16.7%) and battery metals (12.5%).
Nearly half of respondents said they expected M&A to be opportunistic and focused on assets, rather than the big transformational deals that have reshaped the sector in the past.