2023 was a tough year for miners but it is probably fair to say that those in gold came out on top.

Mining giant Newmont wrapped up its $16.8bn (A$26.2bn) takeover of Newcrest Mining towards the end of the year, leading to the formation of what it claims to be the globe’s leading gold miner.

Newmont says that the combined group will have a gold portfolio comprising more than half of the world’s tier-one assets with long-life operations, ample exploration prospects, as well as value-accretive projects.

The consolidation is expected to generate $500m in annual pre-tax synergies within the first two years. It could also bring in over $2bn in cash improvements through portfolio optimisation within the same period.

BHP was not to be outdone in 2023, bolstering its position in copper and nickel in line with its increasing focus on critical minerals, as it bought OZ Minerals in a $6.4bn deal.

In terms of production, Barrick’s move to resume gold mining at Pogera in Papua New Guinea caught the eye and is expected to generate more than $7bn over a 20-year expected mine life. Towards the end of the year, Barrick also got the green light from regulators for operations at its Goldrush mine in Nevada in the US – and it kicked off 2024 with talks with key investors in First Quantum Minerals to assess their backing for a potential takeover.

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Both BHP and Barrick are also near the top of the tree when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) targets – the latest data from Mining Technology’s parent company, GlobalData, show that BHP and Barrick stand at second and sixth, respectively, when it comes to getting GHG levels down.

The overall winner in terms of emissions reductions, though, was Antofagasta – the latest GlobalData statistics show it has brought them down by more than 38%, although Boliden, Newmont and Anglo American also delivered significant cuts.

The miners leading the way in adoption of renewable power and a switch away from diesel, meanwhile, include Fortescue Metals Group and Anglo American – they are aiming to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030 and 2040 respectively.

First Quantum, Boliden, Agnico Eagle, LKAB and Vale are leading the way as early adopters of battery and electric equipment, while Teck, Antofagasta and Polyus all already have very high shares of renewable power.

Other mining majors, such as BHP and Rio Tinto, are at the forefront of innovation, working with OEMs to develop zero-emission haul trucks. The major OEMs are all introducing battery and electric-powered machines, with Sandvik and Epiroc dominating the underground segment, while Hitachi, Komatsu, Liebherr are the main suppliers of trolley-assist trucks for surface mines. Caterpillar is developing battery and electric-powered machines for both surface and underground mining.