As the global population grows, the world’s demand for clean, fresh water is growing with it. With population growth comes increased human activity and economic development, thereby increasing competition for this most precious resource.
In 2014, each Newmont site developed its own water management charter and plan that maps out a strategy to improve mine water use over the next three to five years. This approach takes into account all stages of the water lifecycle within a site’s basin – the area of land from which all surface runoff and subsurface waters flow.
Depending on supplies, demand and water quality within a region, Newmont operations can receive their water through precipitation, groundwater, surface water, and the sea. Mines can experience a natural and continuous inflow of water from any one of these sources, some of which is used for mining operations – water that makes contact with our operations – and some of which is left untouched and immediately discharged back into the watershed – non-contact water. At many operations, open pits and underground tunnels must be dewatered to allow for safe and responsible mining to proceed. Depending on water supply levels at the site, this flow may be released safely into natural water sources or used by the mine for mineral processing.
Unlike many other industries, mining is one of the few sectors that is able to use water that is otherwise unsuitable for human consumption. Newmont operations use saline or non-potable water wherever possible, such as sea water at Batu Hijau in Indonesia and saline groundwater at KCGM in Australia. Advancements in recycling and recirculation techniques and technologies have also helped prolong the lifespan of water used at a mine to optimize efficient use of this resource.
Newmont collects non-contact water using specially designed infrastructure at each operation to redirect excess inflows from the environment safely around our facilities and back into the environment. Much of the water that makes contact with our operations is recycled or reused at our sites to minimize overall fresh water use. Water treatment technologies employed at a number of our sites also provide a solution for treating and safely discharging water back into local basins.
Over and above managing its water use, Newmont works to ensure safe, clean and adequate supplies of water for neighboring communities. In Peru, work by our Yanacocha foundation, Asociación Los Andes de Cajamarca (ALAC), improved drinking water quality and quantity for more than 180,000 people in the city of Cajamarca.
Newmont is committed to practicing industry leading techniques and to partnering with communities, governments, NGOs and aid organizations to create a positive water stewardship legacy in our host communities and beyond.
Read more about our approach to responsible water management on our Beyond the Mine site and follow Newmont on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for more updates on Newmont’s ongoing work to create value and improve lives through sustainable and responsible mining.