Miners don't need to be told times are tough but they must adapt quickly or perish, says a new report by consultants Deloitte.

The plunge in commodities prices has led to 21 projects being removed from the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics major project list at last count.

Ailing small-cap mining shells are surviving by dumping mining. In Australia at least a dozen are buying technology companies, in Canada they are shifting into medical marijuana.

The value of resources companies has fallen in two years from about 40 to 20 per cent of the ASX.

However, mining companies need to resist short-term investor/analyst expectations for long-term business imperatives, says Deloitte in its annual Tracking the Trends 2015 report.

They should innovate and learn from the mistakes of the boom to avoid the cost overruns hurting them now.

Increasingly sophisticated big data should be used for real-time decisions, to anticipate and pinpoint commodity and cost movements that can affect profitability, the report said.

Companies should rethink dumping contractors and bringing services in-house to cut costs, because it could end up having the opposite effect.

“It could also create a vacuum that mining companies will scramble to fill once the market picks up, and could potentially put companies at the mercy of the few larger contractors that will remain after the shake-out,” said the report.

By Greg Roberts