Water Scarcity The Next Big Challenge For Mining

Water scarcity is set to emerge as the next big challenge for the global mining industry. With water being the most vital resource in all mining and quarrying developments, the issue of water management will intensify over the coming years as an increasing number of mining companies venture into remote and arid countries.

Water plays a vital role in the successful operations of mining projects as it is used in virtually all steps of the mining process. Most of the water at a mine site is used for the separation of minerals from host rocks, the cooling of drilling machinery, and the control of dust particles. The level of water consumption varies greatly depending on a range of factors such as weather conditions, ore mineralogy, and mine management and practices, as well as the commodity being mined.

In general, hard rock mines such as those for gold, copper, nickel, diamonds, and platinum are the most water-intensive as they are often associated with low-ore grades. With a much lower concentration of ore being embodied in waste rock, these minerals require higher quantities of water and greater energy usage to separate the ore from the rock. As such, we believe the competition for water resources will intensify as many mines around the world are grappling with declining ore grades, a problem that will persist in the years ahead.

In a special feature published on Business Monitor Online, we discuss the impact of water scarcity on mining. In particular, we outline:

  • The water risk framework for the mining sector
  • The countries facing the greatest scarcity risks
  • The challenges for mining in frontier markets
  • The operating costs involved
  • The ways in which miners can mitigate water scarcity problems

Full analysis of the global mining sector is available to subscribers of our online service.