Every year since 1993, the United Nations (UN) marks March 22 as World Water Day to raise awareness on the importance of managing sustainable freshwater resources.
At Newmont, we recognize that our operations have the potential to impact water, and we take our obligation and responsibility to protect water quality and availability very seriously. As demand for water increases around the globe, responsible water management becomes an even more important area of focus for Newmont. Water is vital to communities and ecosystems, and we work to protect and enhance water access and quality for these communities.
Newmont is committed to responsibly managing our water use through:
- Increasing conservation and re-use – around half of the total water used in our operations is treated and returned to the environment and the other half is recycled.
- Using non-potable (e.g. salt water) when possible – in 2011, 40 percent of our total water use was from ocean water.
- Transparency in reporting – we annually report our water use and post the data online.
- Monitoring and treating water to meet applicable environmental standards – Newmont’s internal standards require us to meet, at a minimum, the U.S. EPA drinking water standards for quality even in the absence of such limits in a particular jurisdiction.
In addition, we make significant investments to improve water resources for communities near our operations.
At our Batu Hijau mine in Indonesia, Newmont has completed a number of infrastructure projects for the nearby communities including an improved drainage system and clean water facility, as well as dams and irrigation channels for 1,250 hectares (3,100 acres) of farm land.
For Newmont’s proposed Conga project near our Yanacocha operations in Peru, we are taking a slower development approach focused on building reservoirs that will more than quadruple water storage capacity in the area and provide a year-round source of water to downstream users (something they don’t currently have due to the 6-month dry season). The first of these reservoirs, Chailhuagon, is expected to be complete during the second quarter of 2013 and will have a capacity of 2,600,000 cubic meters.
In the City of Cajamarca, inadequate storage, treatment and distribution systems contribute to water shortages. The region gets plenty of rainfall during the rainy season but lacks sufficient water storage, delivery, treatment and distribution systems. In 2012, Yanacocha committed to invest US$10 million to improve the city’s existing water systems. The first component of this important project was completed in late February 2013, and increased the delivery of water to one of the two water treatment plants for Cajamarca by around 50 percent. Please visit our Yanacocha site (in Spanish) to read more about this project.
For more information about Newmont’s approach to sustainable development, water management and community engagement please visit our annual sustainability report, Beyond the Mine.