Water

Water

Water is vital for human health, the environment and economic prosperity. It is a valuable global resource, but one that is under pressure: more than two billion people are living in countries with "excess water stress" according to the United Nations.

Water is crucial to many of our operations. We use water to process ore, manage dust emissions, supply drinking water and wastewater services, and generate hydroelectric power.

Many of our sites are experiencing changes in their local water regimes due to climate change. At other sites, mining below the water table brings different challenges as to how we manage dewatering and water disposal.

 

Reclamation ponds, Boron Operations Reclamation ponds, Boron Operations

Thinking local

We are committed to managing water responsibly across all our operations. We have moved from setting a Group-wide water use target to site-specific approaches. Based on assessments of each site, targets are tailored to local needs and conditions. It is through acting locally that we can help address the global challenge around water.

Using water responsibly

Our Oyu Tolgoi operation in Mongolia illustrates this approach. The mine is located in the South Gobi, an arid region that receives little rainfall. Local herders rely on shallow sources of groundwater from springs and wells for their animals. We needed a sustainable water supply that didn’t conflict with the local population’s needs.

Oyu Tolgoi surveyed the area to locate a suitable underground water supply. The work uncovered the Gunii Hooloi aquifer, a 150 metre-deep resource holding 6.8 billion litres of non-drinkable saline water. Oyu Tolgoi is allowed to use 20 per cent of this, sufficient for 40 years. We have invested in innovative and highly effective recycling and conservation practices to ensure we use our allocation efficiently. We recycle water across all operations, from truck-washing to cooling systems, and treat household waste water at seven waste water treatment plants.

80%

of our Oyu Tolgoi operation's water is recycled

Improving performance site by site

Our Oyu Tolgoi operation currently recycles more than 80 per cent of its water. In terms of water-per-tonne-of-ore processed, it uses less than half the global average of similar mines.

At Oyu Tolgoi, and at all our sites, we have set ambitious water management targets for ourselves. We have not met all of them, but the targets act as a powerful management focus on addressing the issues that matter to the site, the environment and to our stakeholders.

We believe our local approach focuses on the way we can most effectively manage water use. But we know we need to keep pushing ourselves to do more. In time and with continued effort, we are committed to driving performance improvement site by site.