It behoves all mines to adhere to new water reporting guide as important first step

31st March 2017

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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Water use has been Increasing at more than twice the rate of population growth in the last century.

By 2025, 1 800-million people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity and two-thirds of the world’s population could be under water stress conditions.

In eight years, developing countries will be withdrawing 50% more water and developed countries 18% more.

These figures are no thumb sucks but the commentary of UN Water, an inter-agency entity of the United Nations.

With competition for water continuing to grow, water-dependent industries are facing increasingly intense scrutiny, particularly when operating in water-stressed areas, says the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM).

Globally, the call for greater transparency and disclosure on water use is especially true for the mining and metals industry, considering its high dependence on water and its potential to pollute water resources.

It was thus fitting for the ICMM, which is being increasingly recognised and referred to by South African mining company members, including African Rainbow Minerals executive chair- person Patrice Motsepe, in his latest presentation of results, to publish a guide to water reporting, an increasing global challenge.

Even though the guide is for the 23 ICMM members – which include the world’s biggest mining companies – it behoves all mining companies – big and small – to take the water issue seriously.

The guide includes a new minimum disclosure standard for external water reporting.

The ICMM is showing the correct leadership by recognising that mining needs to ensure comparability among companies within the sector and provide data on wastewater discharge and recycling.

The organisation needs to be acknowledged for demanding consistent, transparent and material water reports, based on key elements of existing disclosure and accounting systems through a guide that focuses on defining industry-specific water reporting metrics.

Late last year, the ICMM, under CEO Tom Butler, also acted correctly by calling on its members to adopt a range of new measures to manage tailings dams, following the Samarco disaster in Brazil that claimed the lives of 19 people, destroyed homes, cut off water supplies and damaged landscapes.

Giant companies like BHP Billiton and Vale are still grappling with the aftermath of that tragedy.

As now with minimising water risk, members are also obliged to mitigate the risk of catastrophic slimes dam failures through half a dozen measures that include competent planning and resourcing, change management and emergency response.

All member CEOs exercised wisdom by unanimously accepting the new measures – but our view is that commitment to implementation only by November 2018 is too much latitude and that date should be brought forward out of respect for those who have died so needlessly over the years because of slimes dam neglect.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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