The mining and metals industry will play a crucial role in enabling the global economy to shift to a carbon-free future, and mining and metals sector executives are confident in their ability to deliver on both growth and decarbonization objectives.

The latest edition of KPMG International’s 2023 Global Mining and Metals Outlook: Executive insights on decarbonization asked 434 mining and metals C-suite executives and board members from across the globe about their company’s plans to supply the world with “green” materials.

The global outlook report looks at areas of opportunity, with technology and innovation key among mining executives. They are confident in the ability of the industry to maintain a strong growth outlook while integrating ESG objectives and achieving net-zero targets.

Metals and mining company executives aim to reconcile ambitious growth targets with stringent carbon-reduction objectives, by designing their operating model to accommodate both objectives. Achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 or 2050 may seem a long way off, but now is the time to integrate those ambitions into companies’ enterprise strategy to deliver on carbon commitments.

Top four insights from the global survey

Canadian executives believe that demand for critical minerals will rise even faster than the most bullish projections

Globally, the mining and metals industry appears confident that it can meet the tremendous increases in the demand for minerals that will enable clean-energy technologies, but producers of materials critical for a net-zero future, such as lithium and copper, are more pessimistic they can meet the demand. Optimists outnumber pessimists by 12 to 1, but only by 6 to 1 among producers of materials critical to a net-zero future, such as lithium and copper.

According to the International Energy Agency, total demand for critical minerals could increase by as much as six times by 2040.1 With 31 identified critical minerals, Canada is rich in these resources and companies will need to work with all stakeholders to advance exploration and development activities to prepare to meet this demand. The Government of Canada launched its critical minerals strategy in December 2022, with the goal of spurring the growth of a domestic value chain, from exploration to recycling.

Both Canadian and Global executives indicate their company’s net-zero objectives are considered in the company’s forecasts of future growth in supply

Mining and metals executives globally and in Canada are confident the industry can increase production without compromising its own objectives for a net-zero future and respond to environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns.

How confident are you that the metals and mining industry can meet growing global demand without compromising its own ESG and net-zero objectives?

Chart showing responses to the question: How confident are you that the metals and mining industry can meet growing global demand without compromising its own ESG and net-zero objectives?

Source: KPMG International 2023 Global Mining and Metals Outlook – Survey Results

To collectively achieve net-zero and ESG objectives, companies must commit and integrate them into enterprise strategy. Globally only 28 percent have already done so, and 34 percent say their company has only just begun this.

Canada is lagging even further behind. Just 9 percent of Canadian mining executives say they have already integrated their net-zero and ESG objectives into enterprise strategy, with 38 percent saying their company has only just begun to do so.

Strategic planning presents an opportunity for companies to align on the organization’s net-zero and ESG objectives and is an important first step in developing an action plan to operationalizing these at the asset level.

What are the key factors affecting your level of confidence that the metals and mining industry can meet growing global demand without compromising its own ESG and net-zero objectives?

45% of Canadian survey respondents 45%

Our ESG and net-zero objectives take fully into account our company’s forecasts of the future growth in supply

% Global
41% of Canadian survey respondents 41%

My company has deliberately set ESG and net-zero objectives that are less stringent than our peers so that we won’t have to compromise on hitting production targets

% Global
34% of Canadian survey respondents 34%

My company has only just begun to integrate its ESG and net-zero objectives into the long-term enterprise strategy

% Global
28% of Canadian survey respondents 28%

My company has integrated its ESG and net-zero objectives into long-term enterprise strategy

% Global
26% of Canadian survey respondents 26%

It is difficult to measure the progress my company is making towards ESG and net-zero targets

% Global
9% of Canadian survey respondents 9%

My company lacks the labour and money to implement ESG and net-zero goals

% Global
4% of Canadian survey respondents 4%

We are not using appropriate technological tools to reach our goals

% Global

Source: KPMG International 2023 Global Mining and Metals Outlook – Survey Results

Leaders in the industry are aware that they must play a crucial role in this carbon transformation

The survey shows that the most effective measure to help companies meet their ESG objectives is to ensure that the CEO and the Board of Directors are committed to these goals and that they have appropriate governance structures that enable the realization of these objectives.

Canadian executives strongly agree to this approach - 59 percent, compared to 42 percent for global executives. The second most important measure to Canadian and Global executives is allocating sufficient capital to invest in technologies to meet ESG objectives.

Once companies have integrated net-zero and ESG objectives into their enterprise strategy and objectives, companies should cascade this through their executive compensation and capital allocation processes to systematically incorporate ESG considerations into decision-making.

The importance of technology

One reason why executives are confident about the future is that they regard decarbonization plans as a growth opportunity and not merely a cost of doing business. The specific opportunity over the next five years is to transform the carbon footprint of their operations through technology investments.

For Canada, growth opportunities are similarly expected to be largely driven through technological change. Executives expect artificial intelligence, data analytics and 5G networks to have the most impact on increasing metal supplies in the next five years.

Canadian companies plan to tackle the environmental impact by prioritizing 1) improving the efficiency of types of energy consumption, decarbonizing fleet and logistics, and exploring alternative low-emission technologies.Key to companies’ technology strategy and implementation plans is the need to address the increasing cyber risks and the unique challenges of keeping data and operating technologies secure. A breach of these technologies could have significant safety, environmental and operating impacts. Business-led protection strategies need to be embedded in governance models, operational processes, and culture.

Which do you consider the highest priorities for tackling the environmental impact of mineral and metal processing?

41% 41%

Curbing carbon emissions through improvements in the efficiency of current types of energy consumption

% Global
36% 36%

Exploring alternative low-emission technologies (such as closed-loop carbon recycling for steel)

% Global
33% 33%

Solutions to decarbonize fleet and logistics

% Global

Source: KPMG International 2023 Global Mining and Metals Outlook – Survey Results

Read the latest edition of KPMG International’s 2023 Global Mining and Metals Outlook for the full results of the survey and industry CEO interviews on risks, an expanded look on ESG and how the drive to decarbonize is redrawing the map of the metals and mining industry. Connect with us for a comprehensive overview of the 2023 Global Mining and Metals Outlook data.

  1. "The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions", World Energy Outlook Special Report, International Energy Agency (IEA)

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