Land Use and Water Stewardship
Access to land and water is earned by demonstrating responsible land stewardship throughout the mining life cycle.
At a national level, the minerals industry’s ‘footprint’ in the landscape is relatively small – occupying less than 0.1 per cent of the Australian land mass (1) . At the regional scale land use can be significant. non-operational land is often used for other activities such as agriculture or conservation.
Working with local farmers, communities and Traditional Owners, the industry is committed to land use co-existence, progressive rehabilitation and supporting alternative post-mining uses, including agriculture and conservation.
The industry is focussed on avoiding, minimising and mitigating impacts on environmental values. However in some circumstances, offsets may be used to compensate for significant residual loss of these values.
The minerals industry recognises that while some previously mined areas are rehabilitated to pre-existing condition or better, other mined areas result in substantial transformation of the landscape. It is the minerals industry’s goal to ensure that this land is available for beneficial post-mining land use, including economic activities, conservation or community use.
The Australian minerals industry has a long-standing commitment to responsible water stewardship. Water is recognised as a shared resource with multiple social, cultural, environmental and economic value to all Australians.
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.
No other industry’s water use is more heavily assessed and regulated. The industry acquires water through water resources planning and entitlement regimes, state government environmental and planning approvals, Independent Expert Scientific Committee review and specific approval under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The industry is a global leader in water use transparency. Through the MCA, the industry developed a sector leading MCA Water Accounting Framework User Guide 2.0 2022 (WAF), which is used globally and reflected in international reporting standards. The industry is working together to improve water stewardship, from corporate leadership and governance, including TSM , new technologies and practices at operations.
Industry partnerships with landholders, catchment management groups, Traditional Owners and other businesses is an increasing focus, leading to improved community outcomes and a more resilient environment.