The new frontier in greener mining and metals will require digital transformation towards end-to-end sustainability.
While mining and metals companies have made inroads into addressing environmental and climate change concerns, the discussion on sustainability has expanded beyond these concerns — it’s no longer just about the environment, but also health and safety, and the workforce.
Increasingly, societal expectations, regulatory scrutiny as well as new, post-pandemic business challenges have redefined what more sustainable mining and metals means. On top of that, mining and metals companies that have an eye on accessing capital from a variety of financing sources must prove that their operations can viably meet the needs of the planet, people and profits.
In certain jurisdictions, mining companies should be mindful that they may be required to meet market expectation to provide enhanced prospectus disclosure. Further, many exchanges require mining companies to provide specific disclosures in or with the prospectus, such as ... [e]nvironmental and social matters, including climate-related policies.
The companies within the industry have a choice to make:
The former has proven to be unsustainable as wild commodity price swings and the recent pandemic has revealed how all-encompassing disruptions can be to mining and metals operations, which were not fast or adaptive enough.
Nationalism is adding to the uncertainties businesses will face, requiring them to be nimbler so they can become more resilient as they adapt to new supply chains and sourcing. This is especially true for companies carrying high debt levels, as they must find ways of being even more efficient to avoid capital risks.
The latter promises to make operations more sustainable from end to end: From the mine pit to the plant, and finally, on to the port. It delivers the agility, flexibility and collaboration that’s crucial for everyone, from the company boardroom to the rock face and the processing plants, to work more sustainably, safer and efficiently — with greater agility.
“The expanded discussion of sustainability includes addressing the concerns of local and global governments, local communities, citizens, workers and consumer values,” says Thomas Grand, Vice President of the Energy and Materials industry, Dassault Systèmes.
“Local communities want health and safety assurances in mining and metals operations as it is not only co-located with their communities, but it is where many community members work. Related to that, mining and metals companies need to continue improving their ability to attract more local employment.
“Traceability is increasingly becoming more important to the end consumer, who want to ensure that they buy products made with metals from non-exploitative mines or recycled sources — the mining and metals supply chain becomes more sustainable when recycling becomes a part of the mix.”
As companies are seeking to become more sustainable, they are faced with an additional challenge: Resource depletion. This is making resources harder to access and process and, as a result, more earth needs to be moved in increasingly remote locations. Innovation to be more efficient is required in addition to increased use of renewable energy and electrification of fleets.
“Although the rate of digital transformation in the mining and metals industry is picking up, it is slower than the rate at which society expects us to change,” says Michelle Ash, CEO of the Dassault Systèmes GEOVIA brand and Chair of the Global Mining Guidelines Group. “We've got this ever-widening gap between our capabilities, no matter how much they're improving, and the capabilities that society expects us to have as mining companies — and that's why, we have stakeholders that have started to become very vocal.“
The post-pandemic landscape for mining and metals poses several questions:
The companies that are able to answer these questions will be able to stake a claim at the forefront of the new, greener frontier that awaits mining and metals, regardless of the uncertainties that lie ahead.
That is because the ability to answer these questions is predicated on being able to navigate uncertainties and be flexible and agile enough to work around disruptions. These are precisely the qualities that will propel mining and metals companies to the lead.
We believe that all investors, along with regulators, insurers and the public, need a clearer picture of how companies are managing sustainability-related questions. This data should extend beyond climate to questions around how each company serves its full set of stakeholders, such as the diversity of its workforce, the sustainability of its supply chain, or how well it protects its customers’ data. Each company’s prospects for growth are inextricable from its ability to operate sustainably and serve its full set of stakeholders.
You can acquire these capabilities and implement a greener strategy for mining and metals that harmonizes the planet, people and profits with Dassault Systèmes and its 3DEXPERIENCE® platform.
Proven digital solutions — that have been tested in many hypercomplex industries — enable mining and metals companies to create a complete virtual model (a virtual twin) of their operations from one end of the value chain to the other. At Dassault Systèmes, we go one step further than this with what we call a 3DEXPERIENCE twin.
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