Mining in the Era of Change: Addressing Megatrends for a Sustainable Future

July 5, 2023

Tom Palmer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Newmont, has just presented one of the most compelling speeches of our time during World Mining Congress 2023. Although I was not in attendance I believe it’s critical that all mining industry professionals take heed of his words.

He recognizes three prevailing global megatrends that will have an enduring impact on the mining industry: society and investor demands for accountability and values-based decision making, technological change, and geopolitical turbulence. I have summarized each point, but I would encourage you to read his entire speech.

 

 

Society and investor demands and values-based decision making

Stakeholders are increasingly concerned about environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and ethical practices. This trend reflects a shift towards more conscious consumerism and investment choices that align with personal values. Mining companies are urged to incorporate these demands into their decision-making processes and prioritize responsible and sustainable practices.

Technological change

There has been a shift towards automation and remote operations, driven by the lessons learned during the pandemic. The adoption of technology in mining operations improves safety, reduces emissions, and increases efficiency. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is also highlighted, enabling monitoring of air and water quality, as well as wildlife and natural resources.

Geopolitical turbulence

Geopolitical developments have a substantial impact on the supply and demand of commodities such as gold and copper. Mr. Palmer emphasized the need for the mining industry to adapt to these trends and engage regularly with governments and stakeholders to ensure responsible production and create certainty for shareholders. This engagement includes navigating changing regulations, geopolitical risks, and meeting climate targets. He strongly encourages mining companies to play a proactive role in shaping policies and practices that align with sustainable development goals.

 

These megatrends interact with each other and create a meta-crisis that requires adaptation, alignment, and leadership.

Mr. Palmer ended his presentation on a note of optimism

“Whilst the challenges ahead of us are significant and unprecedented, I firmly believe in the ingenuity and resolve of our teams to rise to the occasion and capitalize on emerging opportunities to overcome the headwinds confronting us.”

The mining industry is uniquely positioned to make real, positive contributions to sustainability and human progress. By embracing these megatrends we can create tremendous value for all stakeholders – shareholders, customers, suppliers, governments, and society as a whole. 

We know he’s right. What do you think has been holding the mining industry back?

Let me know if there are any concrete steps that you believe the industry could take. It’s time for us to decide how we will utilize data-driven insights and technological advancements to make sweeping changes in the way we operate and empower our new generation of employees who are passionate about working sustainably.