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The Mining Industry: What It Is and How It's Changing Worldwide

Did you know that the mining market is expected to reach $2,427.85 billion in 2025? 

Minerals like ore, coal, potash, and copper are the most exploited commodities worldwide. These are a critical part of producing everyday electronics and consumer products. As such, they are a fundamental aspect of every facet of our lives and economy.

A modern computer requires 65 different minerals!

The mining industry is going through a transformative era. Improved processes, changing workforce, and ever-changing technology make all the difference. Keep reading to get a deeper understanding of the mining industry and its recent trends.  

About the Mining Industry

In 2020, Asia Pacific accounted for 71% of the mining industry market size. North America accounted for 9% of the global market. The mining market ranges from searching and extracting to delivering products to customers.

Mining companies search for, extract, and process naturally occurring minerals in the earth. These naturally occurring minerals that are mined by mining companies include:

  • coal
  • metals such as copper, gold, nickel, silver, zinc, and lead
  • other minerals such as potash or limestone

Oil and natural gas extraction are not included in the mining industry.

Mining companies mine minerals either through underground or surface methods like open-pit mining. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, mining companies extract 66% of coal and 97% of other minerals through surface mining methods. 

Mining companies remove minerals from the ground and transport them. The cost of transporting coal rivals the cost of coal itself. The minerals may be close to a processing plant or in remote areas.

In any case, safe transportation solutions are always required. As part of the mining supply chain, transportation and logistics experts provide full-service assistance. 

Recent Trends in the Mining Industry

There are a lot of changes in the mining industry because of the pandemic. Changes in technology and a changing workforce are both impacting the mining industry.

The mining sector is a key driver of economic development. Increased mining activity results in increase revenue, earnings, and employment opportunity. In rural areas, this can also result in increased infrastructure development.

A key element to note in these circumstances is balance. Mining companies must figure out how to balance growth against the negative aspects of mining. The mining industry can achieve this balance by focusing on the environmental impact, transparency, and rebuilding their community.

Below are five trends in the mining industry that you should keep in mind.

1. Use of Renewable Energy in the Mining Industry

Renewable energy will continue to play an increasingly vital role in powering the global operations of the mining industry in the coming years.

The mining industry contributes 2-3% of the global carbon dioxide emissions. As such, the future of the mining industry requires a significant commitment towards a reduction in emissions. To achieve a 1.5º Celsius climate change target by 2050, the mining industry will need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to zero. 

Millennials are an untapped investor demographic. These investors are demanding a commitment to the environment and ongoing transparency. To engage millennial investors, the use of renewable energy is the next step forward for the mining industry.

Using renewable energy has allowed the mining industry to reduce power costs and control emissions in the mines.

Mining companies are moving towards building solar and wind projects close to the mine sites to support and reduce the cost of connecting to the power grid. BHP and Rio Tinto have also started using renewable energy sources in their mines.

Here are mining statistics dealing with renewable energy used by mining companies: 57% of solar thermal, 37% of solar photovoltaic technology, and 4% of wind energy. 

Government policies in renewable energy can push the market further in this direction.

2. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)

Resource scarcity, climate change, and population dynamics continue to shape the mining industry. ESG has become more top-of-mind and relevant for the mining industry.

Rather than a concern, the mining industry is starting to see ESG as a driver of long-term growth.

To be successful, mining companies must engage stakeholders and focus on setting regular targets. Mining companies should report any progress through continued transparency. Based on these reports, mining companies should look to refine their approach continuously.

As a part of an ESG strategy, mining companies should be considering the communities around them. Creating real benefits for those communities can be a key factor in ensuring the long-term success of their projects.

Over the past decade, mining companies are bringing community and regional development to the table. This involves discussions on the impact of the mining industry on women and disadvantaged groups.

The mining sector should be considering strategies to support local communities. To start, they should have policies and programs that show and increase the value added by the mining sector. This can include:

  • additional employment opportunities
  • charitable works
  • reducing water stress
  • setting money aside for remediation upon completion of the project

The mining industry should work to be seen as an integrated part of the community.

mining industry

3. Mining Industry and Women

The mining services industry has generally been dominated by men. Women are interested in opportunities in the mining industry. The mining industry has a variety of work, opportunities for advancement, and competitive remuneration.

Unfortunately, women only represent about 8% to 17% of the global mining workforce.

There has been a history of women getting fewer advancement opportunities as compared to their male colleagues.

The mining industry is known to provide opportunities for operational experience and ongoing mentorship to men. Women, on the other hand, have to look for this experience elsewhere.

Women feel that they are underutilized and undervalued. The “boys club” culture in the mining industry does not support diversity and inclusion.

All in all, it is not a surprise that women are underrepresented in the mining industry, but mining companies are starting to discuss diversity policies. Some companies are implementing childcare facilities for women.

Companies are looking to put gender back on the corporate agenda.

4. Use of Technology to Reduce Costs 

Technological advancements are being brought forward in the mining industry all the time. These advances can reduce costs by making operations more efficient. They can also improve conditions for workers especially in dark and unsafe conditions in the mines.

These changes are ongoing and will continue to trend in the mining industry. 

Exploration Drones

One element of using technology is identifying new opportunities. Drones are everywhere now, so it’s not surprising that the mining industry has been utilizing this technology. The mining industry can use drones to quickly identify where resources and reserves are developed.

Some drone models can withstand impact from obstacles and can explore underground mines. With changing technology and heavy-duty components, these drones are more durable, stable, and safe.

The mining industry is starting to quickly realize the significant value-added and cost-effective aspect of using drones. Drones can provide accurate and comprehensive data detailing site conditions in a short period. This data is safer to produce for employees and can be at a fraction of the cost of traditional survey methods.

Automation Technology

Automation is one of the ways the mining industry is adopting to increase the production rate of operations and reduce cost. Mine conditions can be harsh. In the past, the mining industry has been lagging with respect to automation. However, the future of mining is moving towards automation.

With changing technology, new automatic vehicles are being designed to operate 24 hours a day carrying ore. They feature radars and scanners allowing them to operate in the dark and enclosed places that can be dangerous for people.

Technology can provide a safer work environment for the mining workforce. It can also be cost-effective for mining companies.

5. Impact of COVID-19

Like other industries, COVID-19 has affected the mining industry. They have had to deal with: 

  • mine closures because of lockdown regulations
  • outbreaks of the virus at worksites
  • temporary suspense of air, maritime, and land transportation. 

These have led to a fluctuating market.

Security of the workforce will continue to be a trend in the mining industry. Tight working conditions increase health and safety risk for the workforce.

Employment considerations will continue to be a relevant topic of strategic planning. They will require a response from the mining companies, including relief packages for employees.  

The mining industry should be looking into prioritizing people in times of crisis.

Safe and cost-effective transportation of materials is a top priority for both underground and open-pit mines.

Shipping is an essential part of the mining supply chain. Because of the complexity of the market, there is a vital need for specialized experts that understand the challenges of moving mining material. This is even more important in these pandemic times.

 

Contact Your Supply Chain Leaders

Now that you understand the leading trends in the mining industry, you can start to consider your shipping and logistic needs.

In this transformative era, you can contact us for all your specialist mining industry logistic services. We will find the best solution for your mining-related needs. 

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