Decline and development paths – the state of the mining sector in the world

According to the consulting company McKinsey & Company, mining activities account for approximately 4-7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Parts of the mining industry are starting to reduce their use of fossil fuels, partly due to pressure from customers who want more sustainable ways of working. An example is the steelworks of the mining company Vale S.A. on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, powered by electricity from three dams. In Chile, the mining sector is powered by solar power plants – for producing copper and lithium, it consumes most of the country’s electricity needs.

Bulgarian miners are blocking roads and highways, protesting against the government, which has submitted its participation in the Just Transition Plan to the European Commission. Bulgaria expects EUR 1.8 billion from the EU, enabling ecological transformation in coal mining regions without losing jobs. At the same time, coal-fired power plants in Bulgaria are to be phased out by 2038.

According to a report by PwC, the mining industry’s profits in South Africa in 2023 have decreased by USD 5.2 billion, i.e. by almost half. It is due to lower prices of raw materials, interruptions in national electricity supplies and restrictions in rail transport. Without further investment, South Africa’s iron ore mining industry may survive for only 13 more years, and some gold mines that compete with mines in Ghana and South America may survive for less than 30 years. An opportunity for the sector is to switch to the extraction of metals and minerals needed for renewable energy: copper, nickel, lithium and cobalt.

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