Aren’t we all in need of a little re-invention you may say!
Arguably, the mining industry needs to re-invent more than most industries. For example, in mining the expression has at least two implications these days:
- The transition to the so-called critical minerals, and
- The transition of the public image of the industry to that of “good corporate citizen”.
Critical minerals are generally defined as:
Non-fuel mineral, element or material that:
- Has a high risk of supply chain disruption, and
- Serves an essential function in one or more energy technologies.
- A listing of the critical minerals varies with who is creating it, but obvious inclusions are cobalt, lithium, manganese, tungsten, vanadium, and the rare earths.
Much of the interest in critical minerals is due to the urgent need to decarbonise our world. These minerals are critical for things ranging from wind (and other) turbines to electric vehicles.
The industry knows that as we further decarbonise the world their existing portfolios must change – less coal and more critical minerals for a start.
Being recognised as Good Corporate Citizens:
Over the past few years, the mining industry has been working hard to change its public image. Too often in the past the general public has perceived the industry as “cowboys” – maximise profits and leave concerns about climate change, the environment, and the workers to someone else. While these concerns may have been more perception than reality, we now realise that perception is a critical concern. In terms of long-term viability, what the mining industry is really about is of less concern than what the public perceives it is about. The industry is now actively trying to change the public’s perceptions.
We must remember that the industry’s ability to attract workers will determine its ability to make these transitions. As is now appreciated, the critical Millennial and Gen Z generations are very concerned about good corporate citizenship.
An important part of this transition was the subject of the last blog where we discussed the concept of “the social licence to operate” – the importance of establishing this position and then maintaining it.
Important as this licence is, there are many other challenges being worked on, for example:
- Efficiencies in resource consumption
- Minimising land disturbance
- Pollution reduction
- Closure and reclamation of exhausted mine lands.
The industry is recognising that the mine of the future is less about technology and more about footprint:
- CO2 footprint
- Waste footprint
- Water footprint
- Community footprint, etc.
Bearing all of this in mind, it is obvious that the industry must more and more concern itself with its own decarbonisation – in addition to supplying the minerals necessary to decarbonise the world.
To complicate the task further, there are also the “soft” concerns, for example:
- The public needs to appreciate the importance of a viable mining industry to the needs of a growing world population.
- As a major challenge will be to attract workers, the industry needs to provide long term, meaningful employment opportunities.
- These opportunities need to be truly equal opportunities for everyone.
- Environmental concerns must be of key importance to top management.
- These concerns are not just for today, but forever.
As a part of this, the industry is now making great use of many forms of communication – TV, newspapers, social media, roadside billboards, etc.
But like everything else these days, we can’t work on these issues one at a time – we need to work on all of them all the time. Not only do we need to work on them, but we also need to be seen to be working on them – remember, perception is all important.
This is why working with third party experts such as Texcel can be such an advantage. Specialised technology comes with independent expertise, thereby establishing trust and confidence in the eyes of the public.
Complex as these transitions will be, we must remember that together we can move to a brighter more viable future for the mining industry and the world – with the full support of government and the public. Provided we accept the need to re-invent the industry.