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A valuable resource

Water is a valuable resource that we all share and a critical input for our operations. In many of the areas where we operate water is scarce, so we need to carefully manage our use. Water is vital for local communities and the environment, and we must take action to minimise and, where possible, avoid any negative impacts on its availability and quality.

Our approach

Water supply is critical to running our operations and reducing operational risks to optimise performance and business value.

Our approach to water management is holistic, centred on promoting better water use, effective catchment management and improved water security.

We also support local communities, working with them on water issues they may be facing 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 we support improvements in water management, disclosure and accounting practices through the ICMM Water Working Group.


Under our internal environment standard, all operations and major projects 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
  • Hermosa

Classifications are determined through annual assessment using the World Resources Institute's Aqueduct tool, followed by internal verification that considers local context and catchment conditions.

Under our internal environment standards, all our operations are required to maintain water resource forecasts to 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. 

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.

In our Sustainable Development Report, we outline our water-related material risks and associated contextual water targets.

Unearthing beneficial uses of excess groundwater at the Hermosa project

Unearthing beneficial uses of excess groundwater at the Hermosa project

We recognise the value of working with experts to help achieve our sustainability commitment across our operations and projects.

At the Hermosa project, safe and sustainable underground exploration will require moving groundwater away from the orebodies.

This will be accomplished by pumping groundwater away from the orebodies and returning it to the neighboring environment after treating it to the highest applicable water quality standards.