ESG and copper key trends for 2021

WHITE & Case’s fifth annual survey of mining executives has outlined the key themes for 2021.
ESG and copper key trends for 2021 ESG and copper key trends for 2021 ESG and copper key trends for 2021 ESG and copper key trends for 2021 ESG and copper key trends for 2021

Staff reporter

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.