The mining industry is no stranger to change, but 2024 is shaping up to be an exceptionally transformative year. With a global energy transition driving relentless demand for specific minerals and metals, increased interest in deep-sea mining and innovative technologies shifting the way work is done at the operational level, it’s clear that the mining sector is navigating a complex and dynamic environment — and that change is happening faster than ever before. Here’s a closer look at some of the top trends fueling the industry’s evolution in 2024.
1. Demand for Energy-Transition Metals and Minerals
As decarbonization efforts progress across industries (from mobility to energy grid storage), certain metals and minerals are becoming super stars in the world of mining. Copper, lithium, nickel, rare earth minerals like indium and a variety of other critical materials are already experiencing skyrocketing demand — and that demand shows no signs of slowing. By 2050, we could see nickel demand triple, copper demand more than double, and demand for lithium chemicals grow 700%. As mining companies pivot their strategies, the industry is seeing a diversification of investments to meet the demands of the energy transition. Expect to see even more of an increase in exploration budgets and investment in these new commodity markets in 2024, as mining companies work to meet the world’s rapidly shifting needs.
2. ESG Considerations
Emphasis on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations will likely continue growing in 2024 — and so will investor attention on operations’ ESG credentials. A found that “local community impact” is facing the most scrutiny from investors going into 2024, and mining companies will need to focus on a variety of issues (particularly green issues like water stewardship and waste management) in order to attract future investment and maintain their license to operate.
3. Advanced Technologies
The mining industry is swiftly adopting advanced technologies in order to reduce costs, enhance productivity and improve ESG outcomes. In 2024, leveraging new technology will become more of a must, with early adopters positioned to gain a competitive edge. Innovations to keep an eye on include autonomous vehicles like trucks and drilling rigs that improve safety and efficiency while reducing operational costs; advanced imaging and remote sensing geotechnologies that improve the success of explorations; digital platforms that improve tracking and reporting of ESG metrics; and artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that make data not only accessible, but actionable, by accomplishing tasks like predicting equipment failures or identifying potential mineral deposits.
4. Talent Recruitment and Retention
Talent recruitment and retention remain major challenges for mining companies, with 71% of mining leaders noting that the talent shortage is holding them back from meeting their goals. Many will look to address those challenges head-on in 2024 by deploying various solutions, including upskilling internal candidates and exploring digital products. Providing environments that make workers feel valued and included and creating clear pathways for career growth will go a long way toward attracting a workforce that prizes having flexibility and meaning in their work. Across the industry, it’s imperative that efforts be made to address perceptions that working in mining is physically demanding and dangerous. Additionally, highlighting ESG efforts and employees’ ability to provide the materials that power the modern world can go a long way toward making mining an attractive industry for younger generations. This is the year to focus on what today’s talent pool wants and demonstrate how your operation provides it.
5. Industry Consolidation
Joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) will continue to be prevalent in the mining sector in 2024, as mining companies pool their resources and expertise in order to address a variety of challenges — with the global energy transition topping the list. This increased collaboration will likely accelerate the pace of innovation and open up opportunities for companies willing to work with partners, such as access to new markets and critical resources.
6. Deep-Sea Mining
With traditional mining facing environmental and logistical challenges, attention has shifted to alternative forms of mining (like offshore mining) and the vast resources lying beneath the ocean floor. Despite the International Seabed Authority’s postponement of legal requirements, discussions on the environmental impact, regulatory frameworks and technological advancements needed to unlock the potential of the deep sea are expected to continue in 2024. In fact, industry experts project substantial growth, estimating a market worth $15.3 billion by 2030. As technology and regulations evolve, deep-sea mining is poised to be a focal point in the ongoing dialogue about responsible resource extraction and the future of sustainable mining practices.
Strategic investments, a focus on all aspects of ESG, embracing technology and collaboration will be increasingly critical for mining companies in 2024, as the industry grapples with a variety of complex, often-intertwined challenges. At MINExpo INTERNATIONAL, the world’s largest mining event, industry professionals in every sector and role can find the equipment and opportunities necessary to thrive in the current mining environment. Join us in Las Vegas, Sept. 24-26, to see a complete range of mining innovations up close, talk face-to-face with suppliers and manufacturers and form valuable connections that will help you achieve greater success in 2024 and beyond.