InvestMETS mining-tech deep dive 2023


Richard Roberts

Editor in chief

Top 250 mining-tech companies generating circa-US$10 billion of annual revenues

The 250 technology businesses best positioned to lead mining’s global energy and 4.0 reset over the next decade have raised more than US$3.2 billion of equity funding and added a whopping 44% more people in the past four years. Combined with an unprecedented 100-plus M&A deals worth over $4.8 billion, the previously unheralded mining and metals tech sector has seen over $8 billion of investment since 2019.

InvestMETS.com’s exclusive deep dive into the international mining/metals tech space is presented in full in this month’s edition of The Mining Tech Report (subscription only).

It shows more than 20% of the 250 leaders were born between 2019, before COVID hit, and now. Nearly two-thirds of the businesses are less than 15 years old. More than 83% of the companies are privately owned; 17% public listed. 8.4% of the firms have women CEOs.

The largest players, headed by Swiss-listed ABB, include its peers, France’s Schneider Electric and US-based Rockwell Automation.

The top-10, generating more than $5 billion of software, automation and robotics, and sensor and control annual product sales, is rounded out by companies that have led consolidation of the mining-tech field in the past five years. They include Epiroc, Hexagon, Komatsu, Imdex, Constellation Software/Datamine, Sandvik and Orica.

InvestMETS.com looked at more than 500 technology firms active over the past decade in mineral exploration, operations, processing and recovery, asset management, governance and ESG, and safety, to come up with its list of 250 current leaders. The process underlined the extent of the consolidation that has reshaped the mining-tech landscape – a process which has accelerated post-COVID – leaving it with fewer significant, global players, but arguably an industry segment better equipped to meet mining’s myriad technical, safety, environmental and personnel challenges.

Growth leaders in the space since 2019 have been the chief consolidators. The pure tech companies among them have distinctive platform offerings and vast global sales and support networks. The capital equipment and technology integrators similarly have huge market footprints and R&D capacity.

InvestMETS.com’s 250 significant mining/metals tech businesses include software-dominant enterprises (31%); automation/robotics-focused firms (16%); and cleantech entities (11%).

Safety tech (9% of firms), exploration (8%), asset management (7%), mineral processing/recovery (5%) and governance/ESG (3%), are other primary tech buckets.

Jason Price, director of leading global mining-tech advisory firm, Atrico, told InvestMETS.com mining’s automation adoption trend continued to gather speed and “appears to have hit a real tipping point”.

“Automation really continues to gather pace, particularly at mine operations, with many opting for [automated] drilling and load and haul,” Price said.

“This is having a big impact on mine operations, design and mine technology stacks.”

The other major technology theme was AI.

“AI is becoming more mainstream,” Price said.

“This has particularly accelerated in the last 12 months with Chat-GPT making AI applications part of everyone’s experience.”

Geopolitical, social and economic forces that had shifted in the past few years would continue to impact mining’s altered technology supply landscape, Price said.

“There appears to be a sustained shift away from reliance on markets such as China and Russia,” he said.

“Pre-COVID, industry seemed more optimistic about how all of that might play out.

“This is impacting everything from supply chain and foreign investment, to identified strategic industries.”

Meanwhile, the global energy transition was moving through the gears. Price saw it as a “long-term trend with no currently forseeable end”.

“As referenced by BHP and S&P Global, Bank of America analysts have estimated that miners will need to more than double their annual capex to around US$100 billion in additional investment per annum, to meet demand associated with achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Capability constraints are an ever-present issue, due to demographic shifts, the aspirations of younger generations, and rapid techno-economic changes all seeming to work at cross-purpose.

“The rate at which we can change our energy system over is seriously constrained by a diminishing pool of skilled people in critical industries, including mining, mineral processing and manufacturing.

“Capital supply is also constrained at present, although it’s available for the right opportunities that sit in the interaction of the above.

“It’s really the way that all of these themes interact that is most interesting.

“Just taking one slice, energy transition is a key domain for geopolitical tension.

“Some countries have tight control of critical minerals and capabilities.

“Others are forced to use AI and automation to rapidly develop their own capabilities and discover new resources. For example, through the use of AI-driven strategic exploration technologies, highly automated mine fleets, AI-optimised mineral processing, and AI-enhanced training and coaching of technical experts.”

The Mining Technology Report is produced exclusively by InvestMETS.com.

This month’s edition also looks at the outstanding achievers in the mining-tech space in 2022-2023, as nominated by readers for our first annual Global Mining Technology Awards. For more information contact editorial@investmets.com.

 

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