Lawyer Monthly - June 2022

mining operations. The single biggest underlying driver and opportunity for transformation lies in the green energy transition and how companies can make use of this trend to change with the times. There is a growing body of laws, policies and treatises being developed to assist companies to align capital to ESG compliance and disclosure, implementing ESG into the organisation, reshaping traditional value chains and shifting towards more effective community and indigenous relations. Momentum is also growing towards the development of a body of law, rules, best practices and guidelines to prepare operations for climate change and ensure compliance with applicable laws. A developing trend by governments and regulators in advanced economies is the requirement for more stringent disclosures that identify ultimate beneficial ownership of interests in mining companies, thereby ensuring compliance with sanctions imposed against adversarial countries and sanctioned individuals. Finally, with more devices being connected, some of the industry’s biggest cyber vulnerabilities are around operational security issues. We see a legal trend developing towards closing the vulnerability gap between IT and OT cybersecurity concerns. What are your predictions for the industry in the latter half of 2022? We foresee continued interest in the development of battery metals and energy materials projects like lithium and uranium, what we call the “green metals”. We also predict a continued challenging mining financing environment for base and precious metals exploration. The need to secure new sources of materials for the energy transition amid sanctions and concerns around a possible broader European conflict has increased the tolerance for investment in perceived riskier jurisdictions in Africa. There is also a risk that over-zealous mandatory compliance requirements may backfire and lead to choking out the emergence of some new mines. There are signs of rich countries' rising concern about 61 JUN 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM EXPERT INSIGHT securing sufficient supply, and companies and investors are considering projects they may have previously overlooked, while governments are also looking to Africa, anxious to ensure their countries can procure enough metals to feed an accelerating net-zero push. In addition, we foresee a developing trend of alternative energy companies engaging with mining companies to collaborate on green and alternative energy projects on-site in order to reduce reliance on carbon-intensive fossil fuel sources for powering mining operations. We anticipate that governments will offer more grants to alternative energy project developers in an effort to achieve net-zero economies. The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), held in Glasgow in November, highlighted the mining industry’s integral role in supplying the metals and materials critical for a lowcarbon future. The way in which mining companies position themselves today in preparation for this change will determine their sustainability and could make or break their competitive advantage over the next decade.

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