"Glenn Ives and Jurgen Beier of Deloitte, co-authors of the report Tracking the Trends 2012, argue that dwindling access to deposits and deteriorating grades are forcing more companies to move away from established mining countries like South Africa, Australia and Chile, to the more challenging jurisdictions of Eritrea, Papua New Guinea, the DRC, Liberia, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Kazakhstan."
DELOITTE TRACKS TRENDS FOR 2012
By: Trish Saywell
After recent trips to China and India, Glenn Ives, the Toronto-based chairman of Deloitte, is more convinced than ever that the urbanization and modernization taking place in Asia will continue to drive demand for metals, while dwindling access to deposits and deteriorating grades make it essential that mining companies enhance risk management on multiple fronts.
Ives points to China's twelfth five-year plan in which the government envisions moving 80 million people into new cities, in the "equivalent of building a greater New York area every year," and to India, where the pundits in New Delhi talk of hundreds of millions of people moving into newly built cities over the next 20 years because the country's current cities "are full."
"The underlying trend is that Asia is continuing to grow and China and India in particular are moving significant numbers of people up the economic growth curve," he explains. "That is going to keep demand for commodities high, which means we've still got this disconnect between demand and the ability of mining companies to supply."
Ives notes that China alone accounts for 37% of world demand for copper and 44% of global demand for aluminum, and while the expectation for growth next year is closer to 7% than the historic 9%, that's still a lot of metal demand.
"China consumes more copper than the U.S., the European Community, and Japan combined," he says. "We're not building enough copper mines. Many of them were discovered in the 1960s and 70s . . . where are we going to find enough copper to meet this demand? Of course you can look at places like the Congo . . . but yikes, they are tough places to do business."
Glenn Ives and Jurgen Beier of Deloitte, co-authors of the report Tracking the Trends 2012, argue that dwindling access to deposits and deteriorating grades are forcing more companies to move away from established mining countries like South Africa, Australia and Chile, to the more challenging jurisdictions of Eritrea, Papua New Guinea, the DRC, Liberia, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
Looking ahead, escalating costs, talent shortages and competition for building infrastructure will make it difficult for mining companies to complete their capital projects on time and on budget. Cost management will become a critical priority, the authors assert, stating that "by mid-2011 the price of haul truck tires alone had tripled, touching one hundred thousand on the spot market," and that as of June, "Brent crude prices rose forty-five percent year-on-year." In some areas, they add, "investments in water, transportation and energy are expected to account for 82% of project spending." The Deloitte study estimates that mining capital expenditures will reach US$113 billion this year, which is 50% higher than previous years.
At the same time, mining royalties over the last year have risen in Australia, Chile, Peru, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and Burkina Faso, Deloitte asserts, while the governments of India, Kazakhstan and Russia have brought in new export duties. Companies must also grapple with rising wages, talent shortages and permits. "Getting permits takes longer, which drives up costs," Ives says. "Mine after mine has struggled to get its permit, you've seen the stories."
"For big mining companies it used to be that one billion dollars would buy you a pretty good mine," he continues. "Today, if you look at some of the new projects, capital expenditures are in the two-billion to four-billion dollar range. That's a significant increase in risk."
The report offers suggestions on how to get costs under control, including investing in automation, such as autonomous drilling. And new technology can lessen the impact of workforce shortages. Some companies have moved towards driverless trucks, remote operations centres, automated mine-to-port operations, security control and data acquisition systems. To fill the human resources gap Deloitte also recommends cross-training people from other industries such as the automotive and manufacturing sectors and stepping up recruitment efforts in countries "that lack a mature mining industry [such as Ireland], or that continue to suffer from high unemployment."
One suggestion for managing costs was purchasing transport vessels to lower transportation costs. "Although hovering in the US$50-million range, cape-sized vessels are now half the price they were just a few years ago," the authors contend.
Ives recommends taking best practices from other industries and looking outside the mining industry for supply chains, process engineering and computerization. He also advises being more proactive with public relations and getting ahead of stakeholder concerns, citing the example of Barrick Gold (ABX-T, ABX-N), which recently inaugurated its Punta Colorada wind turbine array in Chile.
"That's the sort of story the mining industry has not necessarily got out there as often as it should. A wind farm at a mine - nobody is going to complain about that. And the picture that it gives to the public is that it's a responsible corporation doing its part."
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Received on Wed Dec 14 2011 - 10:16:42 EST