Water Stewardship

Australia’s minerals industry is supporting prosperity through efficient and responsible use of our water resources.

Water availability and security of supply is a critical issue for the minerals industry as an essential input to mining and minerals processing and maintaining safety. Access to water represents a significant potential constraint on further investment and expansion of the minerals sector at a substantial cost to the industry and broader economy in lost production.

Water use by Australia’s minerals industry is comprehensively regulated, represents a comparatively small share of national water consumption and generates high economic value. Between $111 million and $127 million of gross value-add was generated per gigalitre of water used for mining in 2015-16.

Mining’s water use as a share of national consumption also fell from 3.9 per cent to 3.7 per cent between 2014-15 and 2015-16. And although the minerals industry is a comparatively small user of water nationally, the industry can be a significant water user at a local or regional level.

The minerals industry continues to work to further reduce its water use in line with a long-standing commitment to responsible water stewardship, which includes:

  • investing significantly in water infrastructure to support sustainable water use
  • identifying opportunities for beneficial water use by third parties, including for agricultural production and town water supply
  • supporting and investing in research and development to improve scientific knowledge of local water system and catchment health.

The MCA has developed a comprehensive water policy. The industry is a strong supporter of national water reform, including the removal of barriers to market entry and the development of water trading markets based on sound pricing principles, taking into account water quantity, quality and the needs of diverse users.

The mining industry is committed to active and open engagement with stakeholders including other water users within regions to support regional economic development and diversity and to maximise beneficial re-use of recycled water.

The MCA has led a landmark effort to better understand the industry’s water use and future needs through the development of a water accounting framework for the Australian minerals industry.