Project Title: Developing a water accounting and assessment protocol for water management of mining and minerals processing
Research Theme: Decision Support and Innovation
Supervisor(s): Jennifer Broadhurst
Water and mining are inextricably connected, with mining and mineral processing both affecting and being affected by their associated water context. This raises questions for the sustainability of mining on several fronts including regulatory, environmental, economic and social, a critical challenge for water-management. Analysis of the mining water management literature indicates two strong themes: On the one hand, it is clear that various dynamic systems are responsible for determining water-related parameters in mining, from flotation to tailings management. The second theme relates to requirements on the decision-making and reporting side of water management – i.e. the information that is required by various stakeholders at different points in time in order to make water-related decisions. These themes are linked via water accounting and assessment tools and frameworks, which assist in identifying, characterising and addressing water-use risks and impacts around a process. Part of their role is thus to provide indicators which inform water-related decisions. At the same time, this chain of information creation, interpretation and use has not been investigated in the context of dynamic systems and the complexities associated therewith. This study aims to bridge this gap by considering the interactions between these stages in the mining water management process.