Theme innovation landscape

Leading mining companies in the ESG theme

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The future of the mining industry will be shaped by a range of disruptive themes, with environmental, social and governance (ESG) being one of the themes that will have a significant impact on mining companies.

Extraction and primary processing of metals and minerals are responsible for 26% of global carbon emissions. By nature, mining depletes natural resources and has a significant impact on surrounding ecosystems.

However, metals and minerals will play an important role in the global transition to a greener future. Companies must work to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduce their environmental impact, and mitigate risks. Comprehensive strategies for positive environmental management target energy consumed, equipment used, and the systems in place for impact mitigation.  

Mining is also extremely dangerous, and though death and injury rates have declined, further improvements can come from reminding workers of the basics and augmenting operations with technology that improves safety. Companies must also use projects to bring social value to communities.   

However, not all companies are equal when it comes to their capabilities and investments in the key themes that matter most to their industry. Understanding how companies are positioned and ranked in the most important themes can be a key leading indicator of their future earnings potential and relative competitive position.   

According to GlobalData’s thematic research report, ESG in Mining, leaders include: Anglo American, Fortescue Metals, BHP, Newcrest, Newmont and Gold Fields.

Insight from top ranked company

The Fortescue Metals Group is an environmental leader in the sector due to its ambitious climate targets. The company brought forward its carbon neutrality target from 2040 to 2030. To achieve this target, the company’s subsidiary Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) is advancing projects across Australia to build large-scale renewable energy and green hydrogen production capacity. This will advance the substitution of carbon-based fuel with green electricity, green hydrogen, and green ammonia.   

Fortescue has invested $800m in energy infrastructure projects. This includes a $700m investment in the Pilbara Energy Connect (PEC) project. The project includes the construction of 275km of high voltage transmission lines connecting its mine sites, 150MW of gas-fired generation together with 150MW of solar photovoltaic generation, and large-scale battery storage.

The PEC project will cut emissions by up to 285,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year as compared to generating electricity solely from gas. The project will allow Fortescue to meet up to 30% of its stationary energy requirements from solar power. The company is conducting trials to use renewable energy in the Pilbara to convert iron ore to green iron at low temperatures without coal. 

Almost half of the company’s operational emissions are generated by its mining fleet. These vehicles currently use diesel as a fuel source and consume around 400 million to 450 million liters of diesel per year. Decarbonising the mining fleet is one of the biggest challenges facing the mining industry, as there are currently no economic or technologically viable, large-scale vehicles available.

To meet its targets of becoming diesel-free by 2030, the company is developing large battery technology, trialing hydrogen fuel cell power for its drill rigs, and trialing transportation methods run on green ammonia.  

FFI is a global green energy company producing zero-emission green hydrogen using 100% renewable sources. It aims to produce 15 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030. In August 2021, FFI signed a collaboration agreement with Murihiku Hapu of Ngāi Tahu to develop a large-scale, renewable green hydrogen production project in Southland, New Zealand, with first production in early 2025.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the mining industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on ESG in Mining. The mining companies featured in our thematic scorecard are listed below.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis;used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence uses proprietary data, research, and analysis to provide a forward-looking perspective on the key themes that will shape the future of the world’s largest industries and the organisations within them.   

The Thematic Scorecard uses authoritative data and expert analyst judgement to rank companies based on their overall leadership in specific themes, generating a leading indicator of their future earnings and relative strategic position.