The era of critical minerals must be the era of reinvention.
Big Four accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has recently published the 2023 edition of its annual review of the world’s largest mining companies, Mine. In the report, PwC argues that the advent of critical minerals presents significant changes to the mining industry. Companies must adapt to these changes to remain competitive, according to PwC. The consulting firm supports this thesis with a study published in January, in which 4,410 chief executives from 105 countries and territories were surveyed about the future. In this study, 41 percent of the participants did not believe their companies would be economically viable in ten years without evolving with the market.
The new Mine report highlights three key challenges for mining companies: Government interest in supply chains and critical minerals, decarbonization efforts, and a tech skill shortage.
Governments grew increasingly concerned over supply chain concentrations of critical minerals amidst rising geopolitical tensions. Hence government-backed funds and incentives promote competition and present investment risks while challenging mining profitability.
Decarbonization is a twofold topic. While miners must ramp up production to meet growing demands for critical minerals in fields like clean energy and electromobility, they also must reduce their own environmental impacts.
The third challenge, the tech skill shortage, is not exclusive to the mining sector. However, PwC urges the industry to become more attractive for tech talents and professionals. The growing automation, digitalization, and rise of artificial intelligence mean that the industry must become more welcoming to personnel outside of the classical mining context to remain competitive.
These challenges are some of the biggest for the industry in decades, according to PwC. However, they are not new. Mine’s 2022 edition highlighted decarbonization and tech skill shortages as well. The war in Ukraine and China’s growing dominance of sectors like rare earths, however, gave supply chain resilience and security a new central role.
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