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Metal and mining sector faces major challenge

mining and metalsDALIAN, China: A report by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Economic Forum (WEF) says the US$2 trillion mining and metals industry faces a major challenge to its future due to the earth's finite resources.

The report Mining & Metals in a Sustainable World 2050 provides a framework that companies need to address around the theme of circularity and recycling. Key findings include:

  • While a strong move towards recycling and circularity is likely, to make it happen will require action in terms of infrastructure, regulation and competitive cost economics.
  • Mining will not disappear, but volumes are unlikely to grow in line with GDP growth.
  • Metals will not disappear. Companies will increasingly act as a link between commodity producers and user industries, and some as providers of recycled materials.
  • Technology will matter more than ever. Mining companies should focus on improving waste treatment, while metal companies work on enhancing low-grade processing capabilities.
  • Understanding value chains and consumer preferences will be increasingly important.

Acknowledging a way has to be found to live within the Earth's environmental resources while coping with increased per capita consumption and population, Gary Goldberg, CEO of Newmont Mining Corporation, commented: "Our world has been shaken up and we are faced with a new environment where a new generation is asking for a wiser and more sustainable use of resources. [This] report helps the industry understand what questions the industry needs to ask and what the impact could be."

The Boston/WEF analysis provides an overview of what action the mining and metals industry stakeholders will have to pursue as they prepare for the UN Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals this month in New York, and the U.N. climate change conference in December in Paris.

"As the report shows, we will see an increase in collaboration, both within the mining and metals industry and across the value chains with other industries and stakeholders," said Gillian Davidson, head of Mining and Metals Industries at the WEF.

She went on to note: "Business models will have to be adjusted accordingly with some players redefining themselves as material providers, rather than pure mining or metals players. The companies who think about this now, and act on their thinking, are those with the best chance of coming through these changes as leaders."

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