The mining industry, like other fields, has to adapt in order to thrive. Making the most of the emerging trends in 2015 will go a long way in keeping the industry vibrant and alive.
There is no doubt that mining continues to play an important role on the world stage. What has changed is how companies within the industry identify challenges and meet them in a proactive manner. Understanding shifts and addressing them early on enhances the odds for survival and growth. For this reason, mining company investors and owners alike paid attention when the service firm Deloitte released a *listing of the top 10 global mining trends for the current year.
1. Focusing on the Basics
While some traditional methods still work just fine, others are no longer as efficient. Getting back to basics involves looking at the goal of the operation and deciding what combination of methods will work best given the cultural and political climate. This may mean doing old things in a completely new way.
2. Open to Innovation
There’s no need to toss out everything that has gone before. Even so, the only way to remain competitive in the world market is to be open to innovation. This means assuming a degree of risk that may be hard for some of the more conservative players in the field. Changes in the way testing is done, making the most of emerging technology, and adjusting the operation to address what is happening right this minute will be essential.
3. Recognizing and Using the New Energy Paradigm
A mining project consumes a lot of energy. Gone are the days when only traditional methods are enough to meet the need. Owners and investors who are open to making use of alternative sources – including fossil fuels that are not traditionally part of the planning – will be necessary to make those operations more sustainable.
4. The Number of Pipeline Projects
A reality is that pipeline projects are not as plentiful as in the past. This will mean more attention on the maintenance of existing lines and finding ways to enhance their efficiency. To some degree, the decline of projects will require setting new expectations in terms of investor returns.
5. Finding Financing for Projects
The bottom line is that finding money for new mining projects or to enhance a functioning operation does not come as easily these days. Smaller firms in particular may find it hard to get the financing needed. One possibility is joint commitments on projects. This would allow smaller firms to pool resources, command more attention from investors, and be in a position to bargain for better financing terms.
6. Keeping Smaller Companies Alive
The industry needs companies of all sizes, including the juniors. Above and beyond pooling resources to obtain better financing deals, partnering on other levels could be the way to ensure survival and prevent the industry from being monopolized by a handful of players.
7. Expanding the Search for Talent
Fresh talent is essential to the growth of mining. The range of talent is not limited to essentials from years past. Individuals who are skilled in newer schools of computer technology and engineering must be identified and welcomed into the industry. This will mean expanding the methods currently used to find skilled individuals and recruit them.
8. Dealing with a Shifting Political Landscape
All across the world, political factors play a role in everything from obtaining permission to establish a drilling site to what resources can be used. Proactive efforts to lobby for clear policies will go a long way toward making the political landscape easier to navigate both now and in the future.
**Philip Hopwood, Deloitte’s Canadian and Global Mining Leader, points out that dealing with political matters does mean being prepared to embrace a measure of uncertainty. Along with anticipated growth in China and a stable market in India, being prepared to take advantage of opportunities for growth in parts of Asia is essential. Even remaining aware of the amount of fraud occurring in places like Africa and South America must be taken into account.
9. Balancing the Expectations of Stakeholders with the Interests of the Mining Company
All sorts of stakeholders are involved with any given mining project. Finding the right balance so each of those interests receives attention is no mean feat, but it is essential. Seeking to build stronger relationships with communities, mining associations, and investors will help. Whether the plan is to open a new field or begin to phase out an older one, transparency by means of social media and ongoing communication are a must.
10. Communication and Collaboration with Governments
International mining operations cannot function without the support of governments. This means proactively developing rapport and lines of communication that serve the interests of all parties. Along the way, understanding local customs makes it easier to participate in shaping public policy. Open communication that involves social media of all types will go a long way toward achieving this goal of solid interaction.
Mining operations old and new must be managed with these trends in mind. Failing to do so will only create difficulties that exhaust resources and in some cases lead to the breakdown of what could have been promising projects.