Developing a water accounting framework for the Australian minerals industry

Cote, Claire M., Moran, Chris, Cummings, Jason and Ringwood, Kristina (2009) Developing a water accounting framework for the Australian minerals industry. Mining Technology, 118 3-4: 162-176. doi:10.1179/174328610X12682159814948

Author Cote, Claire M.
Moran, Chris
Cummings, Jason
Ringwood, Kristina
Title Developing a water accounting framework for the Australian minerals industry
Journal name Mining Technology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1743-2863
Publication date 2009-09
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1179/174328610X12682159814948
Volume 118
Issue 3-4
Start page 162
End page 176
Total pages 5
Place of publication London, England
Publisher Maney
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Abstract The development of a water accounting framework that enables consistent and contextual reporting of minerals operations' water use, represents a key sustainable development objective that many Australian minerals companies have committed to. A future water accounting framework will require: • key terms and definitions for water metrics for use in the Australian minerals industry that are consistent with the wider water sector, • a suite of metrics representing key components of an operation's water balance, • a calculation method for some of the metrics, and • a reporting protocol. This paper presents the methodology that was used to derive these four components. Existing accounting frameworks were reviewed and key terms and definitions that were consistent with current regulatory requirements and voluntary approaches were proposed. A calculation methodology was developed to obtain some of the key indicators and variables that cannot be easily measured directly (eg water loss through evaporation). The adopted terms and definitions typically require a combination of empirical and estimated data. To test the proposed definitions and calculation methodology, values for water metrics were derived for eight sites, selected to test a variety of commodity and biophysical situations. The proposed framework and definitions could deal with the specific situations selected as case studies. The associated calculation methodology produced complete accounts at various levels. Some elements of the accounts could be directly checked against available data and simulations. The framework captured well variations in the reuse efficiencies; reuse efficiency could even vary for similar processes. It is concluded that this preliminary accounting framework provides a consistent language and metrics for quantifying and communicating water management, both at the intersection of the site with the surrounding landscape (through detailed reporting of site inputs and outputs) and within operational activities. Using this consistent framework for quantifying and documenting water use within an operation will provide a platform for compiling and comparing minerals industry water use with other sectors. This may support benchmarking activities within regions or companies and help demonstrate leadership amongst water users in water resource stewardship. The approach presented here is applicable to a wide variety of mining and processing activities, and biophysical environments, and following a period of stakeholder engagement and third party review, is being refined as a first step towards developing nationally consistent water use reporting for the Australian minerals industry. © 2010 Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.
Q-Index Code CX
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Transactions of the Institutions of Mining and Metallurgy, Section A: Mining Technology, Issue title: Water in Mining; Received 15 September 2009; accepted 13 January 2010

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry
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Created: Thu, 10 Feb 2011, 12:10:55 EST by Charlene Ackerly on behalf of Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry