Water is a valuable resource that we all share. In many of the areas where we operate water is scarce, and we must carefully manage our water-related impacts.

Water is a critical input in our mining, refining, and smelting activities – where it is used for processing, suppressing dust, and managing tailings, as well as for sanitation and catering for our people – so we need a secure supply. At the same time, water is vital for our local communities and the natural environment, and we must take action to minimise and, where possible, avoid any negative impacts on its availability and quality. We are water consumers, but also water stewards.

Our approach

Our approach to water management is holistic, centred on promoting better water use, effective catchment management and improved water security. Water supply is important to running our operations and reducing operational risks to optimise performance and business value. We also support local communities and work with them on water issues they may face, now and in the future.

We are guided by the ICMM Mining Principle 4 - Risk management, and ICMM Mining Principle 6 - Environmental performance, the ICMM Position Statement on Water Stewardship; as well as our own internal environment, community and closure standards.

We report water-related data in accordance with the Minerals Council of Australia’s Water Accounting Framework and support improvements in water management, disclosure and accounting practices through the ICMM Water Working Group. Refer to our annual sustainable development reports for more information in relation to water accounting, including performance data.

Risk and opportunity screening

Under our internal environment standard, all operations and major projects must complete a risk and opportunity screening exercise at least every five years. We also have processes in place to identify which of our operations are exposed to water stress which we baseline annually. Currently, we have four operations and one development project in areas defined as having baseline water stress:

  • Illawarra Metallurgical Coal,
  • Worsley Alumina refinery,
  • Hotazel Manganese Mines,
  • Mozal Aluminium, and
  • the Hermosa project.

The classification is determined through annual assessment using the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct tool, which is then subject to internal verification that considers local context and catchment conditions.

Managing water risks

Under our internal environment standards, all our operations are required to maintain water resource forecasts to assess how much water they will need and make informed decisions about supply and demand.

We have identified material water related risks at Hillside Aluminium, Mozal Aluminium, Worsley Alumina, Hotazel Manganese Mines and Illawarra Metallurgical Coal. This is due to challenges with long-term water security and access for both our operations and local communities. It also recognises the sensitive environments in which we operate, including tightening regulations.

Establishing contextual water targets

 

Our operations that face material water-related risks are required to assess the long-term social and economic consequences of water impacts and how we manage these, with consideration of the broader catchment and community needs. Consistent with our internal environment standard and ICMM requirements, operations that face material water-related risks also set contextual water targets. 

The targets are designed to deliver an intended outcome based on the environmental and social context and needs of the local catchment. Contextual targets are developed with consideration of:

  • Existing water-related management methods;
  • Targets for water use in our operation;
  • Current and predicted future catchment conditions;
  • Current catchment user needs and local regulatory processes; and
  • Our wider water commitments including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Water and Sanitation Targets.

Our water-related material risks and associated contextual water targets for each of our operations are set out in our Sustainability Databook

SAEC water Web card
Partnerships for progress

Our South Africa Energy Coal operation is working with partners to manage water risk.

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HIllside water Web card
Improving access to water supplies

Our Hillside operation has launched a Water Harvesting Project to support the provision of water services.

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Helping overcome drought

We're working with the local community of Mozambique, South Africa to provide support through tough times.

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