Miners have an opportunity to emerge as leaders in a critical transition


  • Net zero and the energy transition will drive demand for metals.
  • With a 127% increase in profits, miners have never been better placed to take advantage of new opportunities and ensure sustained outcomes.
  • Gold deals still dominate, but critical minerals deals are gaining momentum.
  • ESG remains a key pressure point but also an opportunity for miners.

22 June 2022–Mining companies posted stellar financial results for 2021, with revenues rising by 32% and net profits soaring by 127% on the back of high commodity prices and prudent cost management. But it’s unclear how long this record run will continue.

According to PwC’s 19th annual review of the Top 40 mining companies—Mine 2022—which examines global trends in the mining industry, future success will depend on whether or not the Top 40 can take a leading role in the world’s clean energy transition and continue to generate significant stakeholder value. 

To do that, miners must utilise their strong current financial position to meet challenges including development timelines, price volatility, geopolitical risks, stakeholder expectations, economies of scale and economic resource scarcity. 

This year’s report suggests that the rewards for those miners that emerge as leaders in the clean energy transition could be immense. According to recent data, the need for “critical minerals”—such as copper, nickel and cobalt— is expected to grow over the next three decades, with some estimates suggesting that the annual demand from clean energy technologies will reach over US$400bn by 2050. 

That’s because the world’s shift to net zero will require more mining, not less. The rapid scaling of the low-emission energy systems of the future—solar and wind power, electric vehicles and grid-scale batteries—will be highly material-intensive. The production of a solar farm, for example, requires three times more mineral resources than a similar-sized coal plant, and a wind farm needs 13 times as much as a comparable gas-fired plant. But resourcing the energy transition is not simply a matter of mining more of the same materials in the same way. Instead, the world will need more critical minerals and raw materials to power the global economy of the future—and they will need to be mined sustainably.

Paul Bendall, Global Leader, Mining & Metals, PwC Australia, said: ‛The fundamental role that mining plays in underpinning the global transition to clean energy is clear. However, if the mining industry does not rapidly scale up its discovery and delivery of critical minerals, the prospects of energy transition at scale will be jeopardised.’

So what should the world’s biggest miners do next? The report offers four key takeaways. Miners should

1. Consider carefully their position in the race to net zero and exposure to critical minerals.

2. Take advantage of their financial strength.

3. Revisit their deals strategy.

4. Double down on ESG.

Paul Bendall, Global Leader, Mining & Metals, PwC Australia, continued: ‘Mining companies, particularly the Top 40 referred to in this report, must continue to develop strategies to enhance trust because it’s a precious commodity. Only by developing and maintaining trust with a broad range of stakeholders will miners’ social licence to operate be assured. The successful development and execution of environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies will go a long way to securing that trust.’


Contact us

Ryan Stanton

Global Corporate Affairs & Communications, Managing Director, PwC United States

+1 310-367-1045


Notes to editors

About the report

Mine 2022 is PwC’s  19th annual report on the Top 40 mining companies.

The analysis includes major companies from all parts of the world whose primary business is assessed to be mining. The results aggregated in this report have been sourced from the latest publicly available information, primarily annual reports and financial reports available to shareholders.

The report can be read at  www.pwc.com/mine

About PwC: At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 152 countries with over 328,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

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