This week we are adding our voice to the conversations around World Water Week by discussing Newmont’s efforts to responsibly use and manage water at our operations around the world.
The Stockholm International Water Institute, sponsor of World Water Week, stresses the importance of transparency in supporting good water governance. Today, we take a deeper dive into our water use and management in 2015 to highlight how much water we withdrew, consumed and released – treated or un-impacted – back into the environment.
In our annual sustainability report, Beyond the Mine, we present performance data from all of our sites around the globe that transparently disclose our use and handling of, as well as impact on, water. This includes disclosing actual monitoring data that we report to regulators and the public.
Beyond the Mine includes tables that detail our water consumption by volume and source. They show the water that we withdraw and the amount of water that our operations actually consume. Much of the water we withdraw is returned to the basins where we operate, and in many cases, such as at our Carlin mine in Nevada, it enhances the biodiversity of the basin.
In 2015, our withdrawals totaled 503,029 thousand megaliters (ML) – down from withdrawals in 2012, 2013 and 2014. (One ML is equivalent to one cubic meter, or about six and a half bathtubs’ worth of water.) Of the 503,029 thousand ML we withdrew last year, we discharged 374,155 thousand ML back to the environment as treated or un-impacted water.
As such, the volume of water we actually removed from the environment through all our operations and ore processing equalled 128,874 thousand ML, or approximately 26 percent of the water that we used globally. In other words, we return approximately 74 percent of the water we handle back to the environment – discharging it into surface water (fresh water to rivers and saline water to the ocean), using it for irrigation, or recharging groundwater.
Newmont’s water consumption per ounce of gold produced is 19 ML/oz for fresh water and seawater combined, and 10 ML/oz for fresh water only. Both figures compare favorably to other gold mining companies, which are generally around 15 ML/oz.
Our goal is to be transparent and responsible in our water use, while collaborating with our stakeholders to better understand the overall needs in the watersheds where we work. Mining provides significant economic value per liter of water used, but because it is a shared and precious resource, it is critical that we balance our use of it with other needs.
Stay tuned all week for more installments from our World Water Week conversation, where we will discuss our regional approaches to water management and how we are working to achieve our global goal of responsible water stewardship.