What’s next for sustainable business in the mining and metals sector?

In this follow up to our most recent edition of the SustainAbility Institute by ERM’s annual Trends Report, we explore the sustainability issues and trends shaping the business agenda in 2023 from the perspective of the mining and metals sector.

This supplement focuses on the five key sustainability trends that we believe are set to shape the industry in the next few years:

  • Putting decarbonization commitments into practice
  • Accelerating innovation
  • Responding to investor expectations on ESG
  • Building value chain resilience
  • Shifting the social paradigm

The ESG risks and opportunities facing the mining and metals sector are transformational, with decarbonization as the most immediate challenge. Companies are grappling with the conflicting investor demands to reduce fossil fuel use, decrease emissions, and minimize the environmental footprint of operations, while maintaining their profitability. As nations and non-state actors increase their climate commitments, consensus has emerged on the need to transition asset portfolios away from thermal coal towards critical materials that are essential for the transition to a low carbon economy such as copper, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and aluminum. Furthermore, biodiversity and water stewardship are rapidly becoming the next most pressing ESG focuses after carbon. 

In addition to environmental challenges, mining and metals companies find themselves facing an increasingly complex social landscape. While most leading mining companies are global, their individual assets are typically embedded deeply into local economies. Mining companies generate employment, produce tax revenues, and stimulate local commerce. However, they also can displace communities, inadvertently support unethical labor practices, and disrupt subsistence economies and quality of life through environmental pollution. Socio-economic issues, especially in mining, are a major priority for governments and communities and the sector increasingly recognizes the importance of effective community relationships for business performance. Lack of gender diversity and sexual harassment are also recognized as being among the most important social issues facing the industry.

Learn more about each of these five sustainability trends in the supplement, where we explore recent developments, future advances, and potential impacts on the companies in the mining and metals sector.

Download the report supplement