June 28, 2013
For miners, water supply and run-off is a big issue â€“ with the potential to throw an entire project off course.
The Minas Conga copper and gold mining project in Peru is stark evidence of this. Intense public protest pushed miner Newmont to halt construction of the mine in 2011. Now the company is taking what it describes as a â€œslower, water-first approachâ€ to the extraction.
Conga may be a high profile example of the potential cost to miners of managing water resources. But it is representative of a broader trend. Moodyâ€™s estimates indicate water management costs for mining companies globally have increased three fold since 2009, to around $12 billion this year. And it believes t
Environmental and social concerns are hardly new for miners, but they are set to intensify. Water scarcity is likely to be a particular pressure point.