Press release

5 Dec 2018 London

License to operate is top mining risk as stakeholder landscape shifts

LONDON, 5 DECEMBER 2018. More than half (54%) of global mining companies rank license to operate (LTO) as the biggest risk to their business, according to the 11th annual EY Top 10 business risks facing mining and metals in 2019-2020 report.

Press contact

Michael Curtis

EY Global Media Relations and Social Media Assistant Director – Technology, Media & Entertainment and Telecommunications (TMT)

Media relations and social media manager. Music enthusiast and occasional writer.

  • 54% of survey respondents say license to operate is now the biggest sector risk
  • Digital effectiveness ranks second: 70% invest less than 5% of budgets on digital
  • Evolving disruptive forces pervasive across the sector risk landscape

More than half (54%) of global mining companies rank license to operate (LTO) as the biggest risk to their business, according to the 11th annual EY Top 10 business risks facing mining and metals in 2019-2020 report. The survey of more than 250 global mining executives sees LTO climb six places to first position amid rising nationalism, changing community perceptions of mining operations and the impact of automation on the workforce.

With the sector seeking to redefine its image as a sustainable and responsible source of the world’s minerals, the report cites rising societal expectations, the impact of advancing technology on stakeholders and a need for greater collaboration with all stakeholder groups as drivers for escalating risk.

Paul Mitchell, EY Global Mining & Metals Advisory Leader, says:

“License to operate has evolved beyond the narrow focus of societal and environmental issues. There are now increasing expectations of shared value outcomes from mining projects. Any misstep can impact the ability to access capital or even result in a complete loss of license – particularly in light of the increased use of social media, which makes potentially negative publicity more globally visible than ever. Miners need to take responsibility for helping to overhaul the image of the industry by communicating the value they are adding to local communities and economies, and by working to ensure that key stakeholders are taken along on the journey.”

Digital effectiveness remains a pressing sector risk

Last year’s top risk, “Digital effectiveness,” falls one position to second place in the 2019-2020 ranking. The implementation of digital remains a key challenge to the sector. While miners are making significant strides in applying digital solutions to single issues, the findings indicate that they are failing to do so across the whole value chain. Indeed, 72% of respondents say they are investing 5% or less of their budgets on digital. Meanwhile, a recent EY poll of more than 600 mining and metals executives, found that 37% of management have little or no knowledge of the digital landscape.1

Mitchell says: “The stark reality is that digital is the key to achieving sustainable productivity and margin improvement for mining businesses. It is, therefore, not the time to stand still in an age of turbocharged business transformation that is largely driven by digital. To respond to disruption across the sector, businesses need to adopt an end-to-end digital program”.2

Evolving disruption landscape is reshaping the mining industry

Disruption is a new entrant to the report ranking, entering at eighth position. With automation already disrupting workforces, and 31% of respondents stating that technology companies have the potential to play a more dominate role in the sector, disruption is pervasive throughout this year’s top 10 risks.

Mitchell says: “We are now in an era of constant disruption, and it is coming from unexpected places. Instead of seeing it as a threat, mining businesses should see it as a great opportunity to innovate, collaborate, evolve and thrive. If dominant players respond slowly or ineffectively to sector and external changes, market leadership could be lost as newer participants such as technology companies and sovereign states make inroads.”

-ends-

Notes to editors

About EY

EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.

This news release has been issued by EYGM Limited, a member of the global EY organization that also does not provide any services to clients.

How EY’s Global Mining & Metals Network can help your business

The sector is returning to growth but mining and metals companies face a transformed competitive and operating landscape. The need to improve shareholder returns will drive bold strategies to accelerate productivity, improve margins and better allocate capital to achieve long-term growth. Digital innovation will be a key enabler but the industry must overcome a poor track record of technology implementations. If mining and metals companies are to survive and thrive in a new energy world, they must embrace digital to optimize productivity from market to mine.

EY takes a whole-of-value-chain approach to enable each client to seize the potential of digital to fast-track productivity, balance portfolios and set a clear road map for their new energy future.

For more information, please visit ey.com/miningmetals.

About the report

The EY Top 10 business risks facing mining and metals in 2019-2020 report is based on an EY survey of more than 250 leading global mining and metals companies, and analysis of the operating environment for companies in the sector. It is EY’s 11th annual report analyzing and ranking the top strategic business risks for companies in the sector. Underlying business risks for mining and metals companies do not vary significantly from year to year, but the acuteness of the issues and its priority can change. While the report does not provide an exhaustive list of the risks facing companies in the sector, it does provide a snapshot of the most significant challenges today. Mining and metals companies that best understand the risk scenarios and potential impacts on their business are better positioned to manage these risks and seize strategic opportunities.