As the world’s freshwater resources continue to dwindle, water scarcity has become one of the biggest challenges of our time. It is predicted that half of the global population will live in water scarce areas by 2050.
Effective water management is essential for sustainable development, and whilst the minerals sector only accounts for a fraction of the world’s water stress*, mining operations can have a big impact locally. Water is essential in mineral extraction and processing with supplies often obtained directly from groundwater, streams, rivers and lakes before being safely discharged back into the environment. It is essential that this cycle is carefully and continuously monitored and controlled.
At Sibelco, we have identified water management as one of our top ten priorities. Each of our sites is expected to manage its impact on local water sources. Whilst rainfall levels and other environmental conditions vary significantly between our operations worldwide, we are working to develop a common set of standards and best practices. Our target is for 50 per cent of our sites to have BATNEEC** principles implemented within their water management programmes in 2020, as compared to 38 per cent in 2019.
Locally and globally, we are looking at ways to maximise water conservation through investment in new infrastructure and technology, the development of closed-circuit systems and the introduction of new recycling methods.
** BATNEEC: best available technology not entailing excessive costs e.g. closed water system, maximum water reuse and minimal volume of water in the process