HomeCoalIs sustainable mining not a contradiction in itself?

Is sustainable mining not a contradiction in itself?

Anglo American to demerge South Africa thermal coal operations”. This was one of our leading headline stories last week. It has really made me think about the role of mining in driving a greener economy.

If you are familiar with South Africa, Anglo American is one of the dominating coal production companies amongst players like Exxaro Resources, Sasol Mining and South32 (whose assets will soon by fully acquired by Seriti Resources). The “Big Five” account for over 80% of the country coal production.

AUTHOR: Elodie Delagneau, Clarion Events Africa Project Director: Mining

The transition of Anglo American aligns with a bigger ESG commitment in contributing as the remaining business to a low carbon economy that is currently driving investment and key development of existing operations.

The word “decarbonisation” has been hanging like a Damocles sword for quite a while now, and the mining industry seems to be catching up and coveting the “best-in-class” performance, after a few hitches that seriously put at stake the reputation of the mining sector and its impact on the future of our environment.

Do we all agree on what it really means?

Looking back at the roots of the word itself, sustainable would imply the development of activities that “would meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. That definition becomes interesting for mining, looking at the territories they are evolving in.


Being based in South Africa and having organised congresses and B2B events across the African continent, the perception of sustainability will completely differ from the first world economies and the “one size fits all” principle will not apply.


But beyond the environmental impact that we know needs to be address and managed by the key players involved, we can foresee a “new trend” arising from the investor community itself.

Go green or go home

Many of the current investors looking at strategic commodities and especially the millennials, have made a commitment in their portfolio to exclusively look at the role of mining and key commodities in the decarbonisation of our economy.


You only need to have a quick chat with some of today’s active miners and the word “net zero”, “green economy”, “decarbonisation” will probably come up a couple times. Even more than that, those words are or will soon define their business model and strategy. Does it mean that coal is dead? It certainly means that it won’t be invigorated as much as the metals and minerals that could actually drive sustainable change.

Battery metals has been part of the discussion for about a decade, starting with Elon Musk and the EV trend. More than a trend, it has the potential to positively influence the future of our generation, the way we mine, the way we consume and the way we keep our planet a safer and greener environment for our economy to grow.

Familiasrise yourselves with some of the latest information on these topics and listen to the recording of a recent Webinar discussion with Gerard Reid, Ken Rudisuela, Carly Cassidy, and Anton Mauve, as they dive into the role of nickel, one of the key battery metals, not always mentioned, but nonetheless crucial for the development of the EV market.