ERM facilitated a distinguished panel of senior business leaders across the mining industry in February 2019 on Sustainable Mining in the Age of Circularity & the Low-Carbon Economy during the annual Investing in African Mining Indaba. The panel members included Mathias Dohrn, Senior Vice President – Global precious & Base Metals Services, BASF; Mike Fraser, Chief Operating Officer, South 32; Chris Griffith, Chief Executive Officer, Anglo American Platinum; and Simone Niven, Group Executive, Corporate Relations, Rio Tinto.

The urgency to move to a low-carbon economy is driving a renewed demand for certain metals: battery minerals, critical components of turbines, solar panels, electricity transmission, and lightweight metals. At the same time, we are only now beginning to debate what it means to source – at scale – alternative materials like metal substitutes or stock supplied from the circular economy.

There is also increasing market scrutiny of the metals' supply chain, and mining companies may have new opportunities to differentiate on characteristics beyond mineral grade and cost, but only if they can demonstrate that their mining practices are more sustainable than those of competitors.

We see an increasing imperative for mining companies to strike a balance between commercial growth and expectations of environmental, social and governance management. Integral to this reality is engaging across the product lifecycle by optimizing the supply chain from mine to market, gaining clarity on mining’s contribution to the product ecosystem, and positioning mining so it can take advantage of the opportunities of the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The session was facilitated by ERM Partner Jonathan Molyneux, who heads our collaboration with our mining clients to advance the sector's thinking about sustainable mining and the changes in leadership, measurement and governance.