Mining companies with higher ESG ratings outperformed the broader market during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, delivering 34% average total shareholder return over the past three years — ten percentage points higher than the general market index.
The figures come from PwC’s 18th Annual Review of the Top 40 Mining companies – Mine 2021 – which examines the global trends in the mining industry. Net profit in the sector was up 15%, cash on hand rose 40%, and market capitalization rose by nearly two-thirds to US$1.46tn.
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There are further signs of optimism for 2021, with forecasts indicating that the Top 40 will report record-high revenue and EBITDA levels and the second highest net profit. Alongside this, the demand for the minerals that go into clean energy technologies is expected to increase six-fold in the next 20 years.
The survey also reveals that Top 40 coal production fell 12% in 2020. Deals fell from five in 2018 to zero in 2019 and 2020, highlighting the sector’s continued shift to net-zero.
“The global mining sector has demonstrated both resilience and agility in adapting its operations during the pandemic. Coupled with this, the drive towards environmental sustainability has created a volatile landscape for mining companies, but is also presenting an opportunity for genuine, transformational change,” says Andries Rossouw, PwC Africa mining leader.
“The past year has demonstrated how putting ESG at the core of a strategy is crucial for delivering growth. Looking forward, it’s clear that investors in this sector will continue to be increasingly drawn to companies that actively embrace ESG policies.”
Tax transparency is vital to ESG
Whilst tax transparency is a fundamental way for companies to demonstrate their commitment to ESG issues, only 30% of the Top 40 embraced tax transparency reporting in 2020. The report finds a further 39% of mining and metals company CEOs are extremely concerned about tax policy uncertainty, more than double the number last year (18%). This poses a long-term risk to the sector.
Tax transparency, a key ESG metric, gives miners the chance to highlight their significant financial contributions to their communities and the resulting improvements in education, infrastructure, and quality of life.
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“Customers, employees, communities, governments and suppliers now expect companies to create value that is sustainable. Mining companies should embrace tax transparency as an integral part of their ESG strategy. This will support the sector to be more transparent about the taxes and rents they pay and the social benefits these contributions deliver, such as hospitals, schools and infrastructure,” Laetitia le Roux, PwC South Africa Mining tax leader concludes.