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.
Water use by Australia’s minerals industry is comprehensively regulated, represents a comparatively small share of national water consumption and generates high economic value. Gross value-add per gigalitre of water used in 2016-17 was $272 million for coal mining, $141 million for metal ore mining and $64 million for non-metallic mineral mining and quarrying.
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 2016-17.
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 management, 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 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.