Industry-Wide Trends Emerge Due to PandemicBy Alejandro Ehrenberg | Wed, 04/08/2020 - 14:07
The Week in Mining highlights developments in Mexico’s mining industry. Authorities issued an unclear decree to halt all non-essential operations and miners’ response has not been uniform. Additionally, industry-wide trends are emerging due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Automation is gaining ground, Mexico’s nascent lithium industry finds itself in a promising position and ESG principles are as important as ever.
Mexico’s Government Decrees a Stop to Non-essential Activities
Mexico’s government has yet again thrown the mining industry into confusion. The country’s authorities decreed that the COVID-19 pandemic is a “sanitary force majeure emergency.” All non-essential activities must be suspended until April 30.
Industry Trends In a COVID-19 World
For past generations, EBITDA was the first element to look at when deciding whether to invest in a company. Millennials and post-millennials, however, find their investment perspectives more aligned with another acronym: ESG, which refers to environmental, social and governance issues.
This week witnessed yet another tailings dam accident. The event took place in China’s Heilongjiang province and water up to 110km downstream has been polluted. Tailing dams came back into the limelight last year, when a Brazilian dam operated by Vale collapsed killing 270 people. Technology is key for safe tailings.
The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is an investor-led initiative created in partnership with the United Nations. As described on the PRI’s website, the initiative follows a set of six directives, forming a “voluntary and aspirational set of investment principles that offer a menu of possible actions for incorporating Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) issues into investment practice.”
The lithium industry is keen to diversify away from China. The trend to derisk by settling in alternative locations opens a major opportunity for Mexico. The North American country has known lithium deposits not only in Sonora but also in Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi.
The current health emergency has impacted mines around the world. Operations have slowed down or even halted in an effort to ensure social distancing and minimize contagion risks. The question naturally arises of whether these mines could have continued operating normally with the help of automation technology.