International Approaches to Policy and Decision-making
Edited by Jayne M. Godfrey and Keryn Chalmers
Chapter 5: Water Accounting in Mining and Minerals Processing
Claire M. Cote, Jason Cummings, Chris J. Moran and Kristina Ringwood INTRODUCTION The minerals industry interacts with water in many different ways, through its own water use, waste disposal and issues associated with the dewatering of underground mines or of open-cut pits that intersect the water table. Large volumes of water are used for processing and transport of ore and waste, minerals separation, dust suppression, washing of equipment and human consumption (van Berkel 2007; Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (DRET) 2008). Relatively speaking, the industry uses low volumes of water to accomplish these tasks when considered on a global or national scale. For example, the mining industry accounts for 2 per cent of Australia’s water use (Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2006). In specific regions though, a mining operation may use a higher percentage of locally available water than the national averages would suggest. Mining companies recognize that initiatives to better manage water resources beyond duty of care requirements reflect on their ‘social licence to operate’. Accordingly, there has been an increasing effort to invest in water resource management far beyond mandated requirements. Water is a key business asset in mining that requires planning to ensure water supply security from an operational perspective. Securing water supply means that most mining operations must store water in dams or mining voids. In wet climates or situations of water abundance, extreme rainfall events can cause these storage facilities to discharge surplus water into local water bodies. As well, even in cases where...
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