Sunday, 20 October 2019
The Most Admired Mining Companies and Why It Matters
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The Most Admired Mining Companies and Why It Matters

This was originally published by Kim Greenock, Managing Director, Davey Bickford Enaex.

If admiration could be bought and sold like any other market commodity, mining companies would be lining up to pay top dollar for it. This has a lot to do with the fact that our industry, as vital as it has been to the development of the modern world, has been dogged by negative perceptions – particularly around safety and environmental stewardship.

Of course, it does no good to maintain that these perceptions are baseless, or that every mining executive, manager and worker down through history has made laudable decisions in every case. Like any industry, ours has evolved according to the technology and social awareness of the times.

Today’s mining company finds itself in a new reality where social license feeds directly into talent acquisition, community relationships, and other operational realities that may not be fully understood. In other words, to be admired is no longer the purview of consumer tech and clothing companies. Just about every industry you can think of is putting serious thought and effort into being socially accepted – even admired – for the ethos that underpin its operations.

Who are the most admired mining companies today?

Fortune has published its list of most admired companies for 2019. The study is based on the polling of 3,750 directors, executives and analysts around the globe. Out of 400 companies that made the list, four from the mining industry cracked the top 100: BHP Billiton, Alcoa, ArcelorMittal, and Apache. Zooming out to the entire list, at least 6 other mining companies are found: ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy, EOG Resources, Occidental Petroleum, Rio Tinto, and Vale.

People who took part in the survey were asked to rate organisations within their own industry, based on everything from management to social license and talent acquisition. It’s worth noting that only the overall scores (not the individual scores for each criterion) were published – which leaves you to wonder exactly why the companies listed are admired.

A visit to the homepage of each mining company that made the 2019 Fortune list will reveal a few common threads: Commitment to a lower-carbon future, inclusive workplaces, a drive toward innovation, and the creation of value in collaboration with partners. The fact that these companies were given high scores by executives and analysts who work in the mining industry is evidence that their core values – especially the ones they love to talk about – are generating success and admiration.

But this isn’t really news, is it? By now, every mining and METS company is aware of these emerging values. Finding effective ways to back words with quantifiable actions is the real business at hand – and in that respect, according to a reasonable number of observers within the industry, the companies who made the list are getting it right.

Admiration has to be earned

Is it challenging to build admiration at a time when market pressures and technological advances are re-shaping the way we harvest ore? Yes – but technology is on our side.

The most important innovations being implemented at mining sites today (such as real-time equipment monitoring, automated haulage, and next-generation digital blasting solutions) are operationally and socially desirable. They help us to strengthen the bottom line, ease pressure to the production chain, lighten environmental footprints, and improve relations with the communities that surround and support us.

Admiration is not as easy to quantify as nickel or copper, but when you look at the big picture, it can be no less valuable. It’s an element that can never be bought and paid for; it has to be earned by the strategic decisions we make, and by the broader inclusive vision that guides our leadership.

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