Find our full white paper on the left as a downloadable pdf.
Accessing the water necessary for mineral extraction and processing, the transportation of
mined ore and waste rock, and storage of tailings is becoming increasingly challenging. Two
thirds of the world’s largest mines are now located in areas of water scarcity, and the need for
water is predicted to increase in coming years lower grades of ore are mined. Climate change
and a growing global population will create additional pressure on water supplies. The
competition for water that can arise between mining companies and communities is already a
frequent cause of tension, and in some cases, conflict. These factors have made sustainable
water management increasingly important, as well as a key consideration in the environmental,
social and governance (ESG) metrics by which mining companies are judged by shareholders,
stakeholders, rightsholders and other interested parties.
There is an urgent need for collective action and effective dialogue between mining companies and those who are affected by the mining sector’s use of water to address the challenges the
world is currently facing and to prepare for the future. At the Bradshaw Research Institute for
Minerals and Mining (BRIMM), a Water Stewardship group has been convened to facilitate
research on the critical issues at the intersection of mining and water. Water stewardship has
been defined as “the use of water that is socially and culturally equitable, environmentally
sustainable and economically beneficial, achieved through a stakeholder-inclusive process that
includes both site- and catchment-based actions.”1 A key objective of the Water Stewardship
group is to build collaborative, results-oriented partnerships with companies, Indigenous
People, communities, governments, investors, civil society and non-governmental
organizations, and other water users. Following a period of consultation and engagement with
representatives from government, Indigenous nations, industry and society, three research
themes were identified to guide BRIMM’s Water Stewardship activities for the next three years:
valuing water risks; data-driven decision making; and pursuing zero water discharge.
This white paper provides background on the need for water stewardship, defines the challenge
ahead, and profiles research underway within the three themes. The paper also serves as a call
to action: if you have a water stewardship issue, challenge, or opportunity that would benefit
from research, contact us. BRIMM is driving transformation within the mining sector by
connecting the unique insights of researchers with external partners, including industry,
government, Indigenous nations, investors and communities for the benefit of the economy,
society and the environment.