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Aussie Mine 2020: Resourcing the recovery

A deep dive analysis of Australia’s mid-tier miners

Now in its 15th year, Aussie Mine provides industry and financial analysis on Australia’s mid-tier mining sector.

The mid-tier 50 (MT50) are the largest ASX mining companies with a market capitalisation of less than $5 billion as at 30 June 2020. Collectively, the MT50 has held level revenues and profits throughout the past year, despite the onset of COVID-19. The pandemic has also highlighted the mining sector’s resilience, and the key role that miners play in supporting communities and the broader economy. There is little doubt that Australian federal and state governments will look to the mining industry to continue to be the bedrock of the economy, and to lead us out of this crisis.

With a global workforce in excess of 50,000 people and a market capitalisation of approximately $61 billion, the MT50 is large enough to be an ASX5 company. This year, gold miners represent the largest commodity group in the MT50 (44% of entrants), however coal companies contributed the largest share of revenue ($11.4 billion or 35% of the MT50) having produced more than 120 million tonnes (equivalent to Australia’s domestic coal use) in the past year.

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Our report on Australia’s mid-tier mining sector shows that the group now, more than ever, holds significant influence to help resource Australia’s economic recovery. There is an opportunity for members of the MT50 to not only redefine their productivity model as a result of the pandemic, but to ensure their technology is secured to create mines of the future. With ESG an ongoing focus for stakeholders, the industry must continue to incorporate ESG opportunities into strategic settings and implement appropriate governance and reporting structures. This will also boost their ability to resource Australia's recovery.

The MT50

The 50 largest mining companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange with a market capitalisation of less than $5 billion at 30 June 2020, with an average market capitalisation of just over $1.2 billion.

In 2020, the MT50 is a story of two groups that largely offset one another. The first includes producers of gold and iron ore, which have benefited from a significant increase in commodity prices and high demand. The second group, featuring commodities such as coal and copper, has not enjoyed these benefits. At the same time, this second group has suffered higher costs incurred while managing operations during COVID-19 not to mention a stronger Australian dollar against the greenback. 

On balance, the MT50 has maintained their strong position from last year. With a record $43.1B in net assets, the mid-tier mining sector has the greatest depth we've seen, together with a number of explorers joining the cohort.

Mineral Resources Limited

Head office: Perth

Market capital ($M): 3,976

Market Capitalisation change to 2019 to 2020: 42%

Commodity: Diversified

No. employees: 2,350 employees across 1 country

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Alumina Limited

Head office: Melbourne

Market capital ($M): 4,679

Market Capitalisation change to 2019 to 2020: -30%

Commodity: Alumina

No. employees: 5,100 employees across its global operating facilities including its joint venture with Alcoa.

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Iluka Resources Limited

Head office: Perth

Market capital ($M): 3,606

Market Capitalisation change to 2019 to 2020: -21%

Commodity: Mineral Sands

No. employees: 3,259 employees across 3 countries

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Tap to explore.

How the MT50 are shaping up to resource Australia’s recovery

The importance of ESG performance continues to grow in Australia - it is increasingly being recognised as both a differentiator, and a driver of long-term shareholder value. 

Miners that have a strong ESG focus are on the right track to long-term value creation for their stakeholders. At the same time, they’re creating value for the communities in which they operate, and this is key to Australia’s economic recovery. Moreover, there is an opportunity for the mining industry to enable the transition to a low-carbon, greener economy through the provision of critical resources needed to underpin this shift.

We've rated all MT50 companies against the latest globally recognised criteria (the new World Economic Forum's Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics), and explored the "G" in ESG and what good looks like for the MT50.

While the MT50 is well positioned right now, COVID-19, along with increased US/China trade tensions, continues to create uncertainty in the market. In such volatile times it is important for any MT50 company to focus on productivity.

Productivity can impact not only the mining sector's performance but, in turn, the recovery of Australia’s economy. Not only will successful productivity get the most out of the company’s operational efforts, it will also enable the company to withstand swinging commodity prices.

We explore the opportunity for the MT50 to enhance productivity through innovation and digitisation, and leverage lessons from others.

Cybersecurity plays a critical role in the mining industry as operations continue to focus on technology efficiencies, automation, and connectivity within the ecosystem.  

As 38.4% of users in the mining sector are targeted with malicious emails, mid-tier miners are increasingly looking to adopt smart mining technologies to optimise safety, production, and decision making.

Now, more than ever, combating threats to critical infrastructure safeguards the mining industry’s performance and, in turn, Australia’s economic recovery.

We explore if this is still mining's blindspot in relation to mining technology and some practical tips for the MT50 to respond.

The strong performance of the mining sector, relative to other industries, creates a temptation for governments to increase royalties or revisit mining-specific tax regimes. In the past, industry leaders have discouraged the government from raising taxes, leaving the industry free to create jobs and promote growth in the Australian economy. 

At the same time, there is heightened interest from the community around whether they are getting their fair share of tax receipts from mining corporations as they reap the benefits of higher commodity prices. This includes the MT50. We also explore the benefits of tax transparency.


This map displays MT50 mines in production in Australia.

Contact us

Debbie Smith

National Mining Leader, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (7) 3257 8286

Justin Eve

Lead Partner, Perth, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 422 002 354

Carla Reynolds

Energy Utilities & Mining Markets Lead, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (7) 3257 8784

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